COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeyes continue their road swing with a pair of Big Ten matches this weekend. Ohio State and Rutgers will battle for the first time this season on Friday at 7 p.m. It’s a quick turnaround as the squad heads over to No. 9 Penn State for Saturday’s 7 p.m. showdown.
Friday, Oct. 5 | 7 p.m. | Piscataway, N.J. | College Avenue Gym | Stream: BTN Plus
Saturday, Oct. 6 | 7 p.m. | University Park, Pa. | Rec Hall | Stream: BTN Plus
HISTORY WITH THE SCARLET KNIGHTS & NITTANY LIONS
Ohio State owns nine victories in its 10 meetings with Rutgers. The Buckeyes have not lost to the Scarlet Knights since 1981 and has won the last seven matches in straight sets.
It has been less than two weeks since the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions squared off in Columbus. Ohio State came away with a 3-1 upset win over then-ranked No. 4 Penn State on Sept. 23. It was the first Scarlet and Gray victory in the series since 2016. The Nittany Lions still have a 48-16 advantage in the all-time series.
Rutgers is on a four-match skid since opening conference play two weeks ago. As a team, the Scarlet Knights rank fifth in the country behind 2.97 blocks per set and sixth in total blocks (175.5), which leads the Big Ten. Stasa Miljevic is 13th among the nation’s leader with 1.49 blocks per set.
Penn State is coming off two straight-set wins over Michigan State and Michigan last weekend. The Nittany Lions average 3.18 blocks per set, the top mark in the nation. The team has held its opponents to a .144 attack percentage (6th) and has a .265 hitting percentage (19th). Individually, Serena Gray is seventh in the country with 1.55 blocks per set while Kaitlyn Hord is attacking at a .417 clip to check in ninth nationally.
In Big Ten-only matches, Hannah Gruensfelder stands sixth averaging 4.31 digs per set. Bia Franklin has .44 aces per set, which is sixth, while Becca Mauer’s 7.56 assists per set ranks 11th.
WITTE WITH THE HOT HAND
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Witte has been the leader on offense for the Buckeyes. She currently tops the team and ranks 35th nationally with a .373 hitting percentage. Witte also protects the net with 1.06 blocks per set. She has nine matches with double-digit kills, including a career-high 19 against Albany.
ROOKIES ON THE COME UP
Freshmen Mia Grunze and Vanja Bukilić have stepped up to the challenge for Ohio State. Through 16 matches, the rookie duo has combined for 43 percent or 341 kills of the Buckeyes’ team total (792). Grunze averages 2.70 kills per set and has 10 matches in double figures while Bukilić has tallied 12 double-digit outings and 3.03 kills per set.
FAREWELL ST. JOHN ARENA, HELLO COVELLI CENTER
The 2018 campaign is the final season for the Buckeyes inside St. John Arena. The women’s volleyball team will be moving to the Covelli Center, which is set to be complete in time for the 2019 season. The state-of-the-art facility is part of the new Ohio State Athletic District and will span over 100,000 square feet in total and include a locker room and coaching suite designed specifically for the women’s volleyball program.
Ohio State hosts Michigan at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and Michigan State at 1 p.m. Oct. 14.