No. 8 Penn State has a chance to continue gaining momentum at home this weekend against unranked Maryland and Ohio State.
Coming off of a dominant three-set win against Iowa, the white hot Nittany Lion offense will face a defense similar to the Hawkeyes when Penn State takes on the Terrapins on Friday night.
Maryland is 1-3 in Big Ten play so far this season, having won only three total sets against conference opponents.
While Penn State seemingly has a clear edge on the Terrapins, Friday night will be more than just a game for some.
Maryland coach Adam Hughes is no stranger to Happy Valley, having worked under Penn State coach Russ Rose for nine years at an earlier point in his career.
During Hughes’ run at Penn State, the team won three national championships and eight Big Ten titles.
“[Hughes] is very comfortable with bringing his team here, and I have great affection for him and his family,” Rose said. “I think Adam will be really relaxed, and his team will be relaxed, and they’ll play really hard.”
The last time the two faced off was last year, and Penn State walked away with a clean 3-0 win, with 40 kills and a mere 15 errors. However, the Terrapins are fresh off their first ever win over Michigan State, and will certainly walk into Rec Hall with a chip on their shoulder.
“Everybody in the Big Ten can beat everybody in the Big Ten,” Rose said. “What you have to do is separate that there’s 20 matches in the conference schedule, they all have the same value, and you need to be ready to play.”
Leading up to this weekend, a main focus for the Nittany Lions has been to limit errors as much as possible.
Seeing as Maryland’s win over Michigan State was mainly propelled by the Spartans inability to make plays, an emphasis on this is beyond fitting.
Ohio State will pose the second challenge for the Nittany Lions this weekend, coming off of two conference losses to Michigan and Michigan State. This year’s Ohio State team has not gotten off to the conference start they would have hoped for, with only one Big Ten win so far.
However, the Buckeye offense is not to be underestimated, as their 14.04 kills per set ranks third in the conference and could pose a serious threat to the Penn State defense.
After a crushing loss to Wisconsin last week the Nittany Lions are on a hunt to reclaim their title as one of the top teams in the Big Ten, and are working to spark a new win streak at Rec Hall this weekend.
Penn State will play against Maryland on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and against Ohio State at 8 p.m.