By Anna Kayser
The Iowa volleyball team will try to restart the intensity in its last home match of the season at 8 p.m. Saturday against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are 14-12 on the season, 7-8 in the Big Ten.
Blocking has been big for Iowa recently and will prove to be important in this match. Ohio State ranks 48th in the nation with an average of 13.76 kills per set.
“Ohio State is a really good matchup for us,” senior libero Annika Olsen said. “They’ve been not so successful this year in the Big Ten as they have in the past, and we get to play them twice in the future, so we’re really looking forward to that. They have a lot of injuries, so we’re just kind of ready to play our game against them and really think it’s a good team we can beat.”
In the remaining five matches of the season, the Hawkeyes will face against the Buckeyes twice.
Beating a team two times in the Big Ten is something that Iowa knows is tough to do, but the focus right now is just on that first match.
“We know that’s going to be a tough game, and we know they’re clawing and fighting their way to stay in the running for the tournament,” senior middle blocker Kelsey O’Neill said. “We know that we’re going to have to shut them down quickly and fast, and if we do it once we have no doubt that we can do it again.”
Ohio State is coming off of a three-set sweep against Rutgers on Nov. 8, while Iowa is trying to restart its intensity after being swept at home by No. 1 Penn State.
The Hawkeyes’ focus now is playing the best they can on their side of the net.
“The Buckeyes are definitely hot as of late, and we’re going to have to bring a lot from a full team aspect,” head coach Bond Shymansky said. “We need every hitter to show up, we need every defender and passer, we need Brie Orr to set a great game, and that’s going to be required to take down the Buckeyes.”
A lot of the drive going into this match is knowing who the better team is.
“Ohio State, they are a good team, but they’re a team that we know we can beat and we have to know that,” Olsen said. “We have to play with that confidence.”
Saturday’s match is senior night for the Hawkeyes, where they will honor seniors Olsen, middle blocker Jess Janota, middle blocker O’Neill, right-side hitter Taylin Alm, and outside hitter Kasey Reuter.
With the team’s sights still set on an NCAA Tournament bid, the last matches of the season are crucial.
“Obviously it’s our last home match, it’s senior night, we need to come up with a W here in a hurry,” Shymansky said. “We’re running out of opportunities and our team has to play with that kind of urgency and intensity.”