Maryland volleyball dropped its second straight game Wednesday night against No. 14 Penn State, but now the 13-2 Terps will have a chance to get back in the win column with a match against Ohio State coming up on Saturday.
The Terps found themselves up 2-0 in the match against the Nittany Lions but weren’t able to close out the tightly contested third set, leading to their eventual demise. The two talented Big Ten teams put on quite the show, but unfortunately for Maryland, the Nittany Lions found their stride in the middle of the third set and ran away with the match.
Now, the Terps will face their fourth top 15 opponent in a row with the Buckeyes, who are coming off a convincing sweep on Wednesday night.
Saturday’s match against Ohio State will begin at 7 p.m. in the Covelli Center in Columbus.
No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes 11-2, (1-2 Big Ten)
2020 record: 16-4, (15-3 Big Ten)
Head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg was a former four-year standout for the Buckeyes and made her return to the program on January 17, 2020. During her time playing for the Buckeyes, Oldenburg led Ohio State to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and was the first conference player to be named All-Big Ten at two different positions (setter and outside hitter).
During her first season as head coach, Oldenburg led the Buckeyes to their first winning record since 2016 (16-4) and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State won its first conference match on Wednesday, after losing its first two to No. 4 Purdue and No. 14 Penn State.
Players to know
Sophomore outside hitter Emily Londot, 6-foot-3, No. 22 - Londot was one of the best players in the nation her freshman year, recording 4.07 kills per set, 2.16 digs per set, and a 0.234 hitting percentage. Her impressive play earned multiple honors, including AVCA National Freshman of the Year, AVCA Second Team All-American, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Londot is having another spectacular year as she is fourth in the Big Ten in kills per set (3.84), second on her team in blocks (40), and fifth in digs (81).
Sophomore middle blocker Rylee Radar, 6-foot-2, No. 20 - Similar to Londot, Radar was dominant as a freshman, earning AVCA Northeast All-Region and Second Team All-Big Ten. This season, Radar is fifth in the nation in hitting percentage (.451), fourth on the team in kills (102), and tied with Londot for second on the team in blocks (40).
Junior setter Mac Podraza, 6-foot-2, No. 10 - Podraza is one of the best setters in the nation, ranking second in assists per set (11.89). Last year, she was named to the AVCA Northeast All-Region team and the First Team All-Big Ten. Podraza is a swiss army knife for the Buckeyes, ranking fourth on the team in blocks (26) and digs (96) and second on the team in service aces (nine).
Offense. Ohio State’s biggest strength is its all-around offensive attack. The Buckeyes are first in the nation in assists per set (13.89), second in the nation in kills per set (14.80), and on great efficiency as they are eighth in the nation in hitting percentage (.298). Maryland’s defense will have to be at its best when it visits the Buckeyes in another Big Ten showdown.
Converting serves into points. The only weakness that the Buckeyes have is that they don’t convert many serves into points, as they are 13th in the Big Ten in service aces per set (1.22). If Maryland wants to find some success against the highly-ranked Buckeyes, then it will have to make it a priority to focus on their service return game.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps respond after blowing a 2-0 lead? Maryland led Penn State 2-0 in Wednesday night’s battle but was unable to hold on to complete the upset. The question becomes, will the Terps let this negatively affect them moving forward, or will they use this as motivation to defeat the Buckeyes and maintain their spot amongst the best teams in the nation?
2. Can Maryland’s front line slow down Londont? Penn State is the best blocking team in the nation and was unable to control Londont in their match, despite getting the win. Londont put up 5.67 kills per set on a .205 hitting percentage, and she could give the Terps similar problems if they don’t develop a scheme to defend her.
3. Maryland needs to cut down on errors. Aside from the first set, the Terps lost the error battle by two in each set in Wednesday night’s loss, including two attacking errors late in the crucial third set. If Maryland can win the error battle, they will have a tremendous opportunity to pull off the upset.