Sept. 10, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2013 Ohio State women’s volleyball team is coming off a successful weekend at the Four Points by Sheraton Seminole Invitational in Tallahassee and already has great moments to celebrate two weeks into the season.
BEST START IN SEVEN YEARS
Ohio State stands at 6-0 in the early season, earning its best start since the 2006 season that saw the Buckeyes reaching the NCAA regional semifinals. The start is also the best under six-year head coach Geoff Carlston.
“I knew the team was going to do some great things this year,” senior Davionna DiSalvatore said. “We have more than one offensive threat and most of our defensive players have returned. Everyone worked hard in the offseason and has definitely picked up their game.”
After defeating a pair of Top 20 teams in Western Kentucky and Florida State on the same day last weekend, the squad jumped 10 spots in the AVCA poll and is currently ranked No. 13 overall. Ohio State was ranked as high as No. 14 in 2012, coming at the end of the season.
“We are all really happy to be off to a great start,” senior Kaitlyn Leary said. “We have had our ups and downs, but we are getting better every day and I’m excited to see where we can go.”
“We do a great job making changes when we need to during intense matches,” DiSalvatore added. “We know how to finish matches this year and that is something great to have going into the Big Ten season.”
Ohio State is one of nine Big Ten schools currently ranked in the AVCA poll: Penn State (3), Minnesota (4), Michigan (7), Nebraska (12), Ohio State (13), Illinois (14), Michigan State (15), Purdue (22) and Wisconsin (25).
With two tournament titles under their belt, the Buckeyes are earning individual recognition on all levels. Recently, senior Kaitlyn Leary was named AVCA National Player of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week for her efforts in Ohio State’s 3-0 record at the Seminole Invitational. Junior Taylor Sherwin was awarded Big Ten Setter of the Week Sept. 2 after guiding the Buckeyes to the team title at the NIU Invitational.
Overall, four Buckeyes have been placed on all-tournament teams to start the season. Sherwin, Leary and DiSalvatore were placed on the NIU Invitational all-tournament team with Sherwin being named the Most Valuable Player. Freshman Taylor Sandbothe joined Leary and Sherwin on the Seminole Invitational team, while Leary earned MVP honors.
Although they’ve been called a young team, the Buckeyes are playing more like an experienced squad. Ohio State is led by seniors Leary, DiSalvatore and Julianne Mandolfo. The trio entered the season bringing a wealth of experience from 2012 as all three were a part of the regular rotation.
Joining the group are four juniors in Sherwin, Anna Faul, Erin Sekinger and Alyssa Winner. Sherwin has already established herself as the team’s offensive captain, while Faul developed as one of the squad’s top blockers last season and has held that role this year. Sekinger and Winner both provide depth in their respective positions and vie for starting roles each match.
Sophomores Andrea Kacsits and Katie Mitchell returned following successful freshmen campaigns. Kacsits has started all six matches at middle blocker and has put up career numbers already this year for the Buckeyes. Mitchell’s overall work ethic and skill has given the Buckeyes depth in almost every position on the court.
The freshmen quartet of Kylie Randall, Valeria León, Sandbothe and Maggie Heim entered the season poised to contribute right away and haven’t disappointed. Sandbothe secured a starting position at right side, while Randall has provided offensive power at outside hitter. León’s defensive skills have led to playing time in all six matches. Heim, though battling an injury, is still a major contributor vocally and in practice.
With the Big Ten season only two weeks away, the Buckeyes have the opportunity to remain undefeated prior to entering conference play. Ohio State hosts its annual Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic this weekend and closes out the early season at the Blue and White Classic in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 20-21.
The Buckeyes kick off their Big Ten schedule hosting rival Michigan Sept. 27 in St. John Arena. The match is set to be broadcast live on BTN at 8 p.m. ET.
Although they’ve reached the NCAA Tournament for four-consecutive seasons, the Buckeyes want more for this year.
“We want to be in Seattle on December 19th,” Mandolfo said. “We have high goals and we all believe we can make it to the NCAA Final Four.”