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Maryland volleyball set to host national powerhouse Penn State and Ohio State

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This weekend will likely be Maryland's toughest of the season. Winning a set, much less a match, will be extremely difficult as they play two extremely talented teams.

Sami Silber

Penn State

Penn State will come to College Park for a rare Thursday night battle under the bright lights of Xfinity Center's main court. The defending national champions are the nation's top-ranked team after defeating Ohio State in both matches last week. The visitors own a 21-2 record with both losses coming against conference opponents.

Coach Aird's former team last lost on October 10th in a match at Northwestern. What have they done since? The Nittany Lions have gone on to win their last six matches. Five of these six matches have ended in straight sets. They are a hungry team looking to keep that No. 1 ranking for the rest of the season.

PSU leads the conference not only in hitting percentage, but opponents' hitting percentage as well. They hit well and prevent their opponents from doing the same. Their stifling defense has also given them the conference lead in blocks. They pride themselves in not letting their opponents even smell a point.

Haleigh Washington, a sophomore from Colorado Springs, Colorado, leads the Big Ten in hitting percentage. She hits at a .456 percent clip and also averages the second most blocks per game in the conference. She has turned into one of the most complete players in the game in only her second collegiate season.

Redshirt freshman Bryanna Weiskircher serves the ball extremely well. She is currently tied for the Big Ten lead in service aces with 26. Maryland has the most service aces in the conference, so they will look to use that knowledge towards preventing Weiskircher from being on her game.

The Nittany Lions are extremely balanced offensively. They have four players with over 200 kills on the season. Maryland has two. Aiyana Whitney has tallied the most kills for Penn State with 238.

Penn State will be as advertised and the Terps have very little chance of winning, but the Nittany Lions can serve as a goal for a young Maryland team that is aiming to perform at that level in the years to come.

MATCH INFO

WHO: Maryland vs. No. 1 Penn State

WHEN: Thursday, November 5th. 8PM

WHERE: Xfinity Center Main Floor

HOW TO FOLLOW: Live stream on BTN+, live stats via umterps.com, @TerpsVolleyball on Twitter.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes enter the weekend as the losers of three of their last four matches. They will likely use this weekend as a way to get back on track as the sun is beginning to set on the 2015 volleyball season.

They own a 19-5 overall record with an 8-4 conference record. Two of their losses came against Penn State last week.

While OSU isn't the same caliber team as Penn State is, they do everything very well. They don't lead the conference in any major statistical category but they play a clean, efficient match.

Elizabeth Campbell, an outside hitter who transferred from Duke after her sophomore season, is a very special talent. The senior has 339 kills on the season and averages close to four kills per set.

Campbell isn't the only Buckeye who likes to put the ball down on the opponents' side. As a team, Ohio State has over 200 more kills than their opponents this season.

Valeria Leon, a junior from Puerto Rico, leads the team with 396 digs on the season. Leon gets help from her teammates too, as four other players on the squad have recorded over 100 digs.

Although Ohio State isn't as talented as Penn State, they will still be an extremely difficult team to knock off. The Buckeyes won't take the Terps for granted and will look to win the match as quickly and efficiently as possible.

MATCH INFO

WHO: Maryland vs. No. 12 Ohio State

WHEN: Friday, November 6th. 6:30PM

WHERE: Xfinity Center Pavillion

HOW TO FOLLOW: Live stream on BTN+, live stats via umterps.com, @TerpsVolleyball on Twitter.