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Dec. 3, 2002

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State (19-10 overall, 13-7 Big Ten, fourth) women’s volleyball team received an at-large big to the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship and will host first and second round matches this week. The Buckeyes, seeded 15th by the NCAA Volleyball Committee, will face Robert Morris (27-11) Fri., Dec. 6, 30 minutes after the completion of the Louisville (27-5) – Ball State (25-7) match which begins at 5 p.m. The winners return at 7 p.m., Sat., Dec. 7 to play for a berth in the Pacific Regional.

BUCKEYES RECEIVE BIG TEN HONORS, GORDON NAMED POY
The Big Ten Conference, by a vote of the league coaches, has named Ohio State’s Stacey Gordon (So., Oshawa, Ontario) the Big Ten Player of the Year. The 5-11, outside hitter averaged 5.87 kills per game to lead the Big Ten Conference. Gordon averaged 3.18 digs, .30 aces and .43 blocks per game. She had double-figure kills in all 20-conference matches and had 20 or more kills in 15 contests. Gordon recorded her career-high of 36 kills at Michigan State. She had 16 matches with double-figure digs in league play with a career-high of 21 at Illinois. Gordon was named the Big Ten Player of the Week four times this season with all four honors coming against league opponents. She was ranked third nationally last week in kills per game at 5.90. Gordon is the first Ohio State student-athlete to be named the Volleyball Player of the Year since Vanessa Wouters in 1996

Gordon was OSU’s only player to be named All-Big Ten but three student-athletes were named as honorable mention All-Big Ten. These included Shelly Draeger (Sr., Milwaukee, Wis.), Suzie Stiling (Sr., Glenview, Ill.) and Katie Virtue (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.). In addition, Stephanie Higgins (Fr., Biggsville, Ill.) was named to the six-player Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Draeger, a 5-11, outside hitter, averaged 2.91 kills and 2.15 digs per game in conference play. She hit a team-high .303 in league action and averaged .20 aces and .61 blocks per game. Stiling, a 6-1, middle blocker, averaged 3.00 kills and 1.23 digs per game. She had a team-high 1.20 blocking average and a .20 aces per game mark. Virtue, a 5-9 setter, was the conference statistical champion in assists per game at 13.88 for conference matches. This despite missing the first four league contests with a fractured hand. She was second on the squad in digs per game at 2.35 and was third in blocks at .82. Higgins, a 6-0, middle blocker, was fourth on the team in kills per game at 1.85. She was second on the squad in blocking with a 1.05 blocks per game average in Big Ten matches.

A LOOK AT OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes, coached by Jim Stone, are 19-10 overall and 13-7 in Big Ten play. Ohio State finished fourth place in the Big Ten Conference after a 3-0 (30-17, 30-27, 30-27) win over Illinois and a 3-2 (27-30, 30-20, 30-23, 23-30, 15-13) victory over Purdue in home matches. Stacey Gordon leads Ohio State with a 5.91 kills (674) and a 3.39 digs (386) per game average. Suzie Stiling ranks second in kills at 2.87 (327) and is the team leader in blocks per game at 1.06 (15 solos, 106 assists). Shelly Draeger is third in kills at 2.67 (304). Stephanie Higgins is second on the team in blocks with a .99 per game average (four solos, 108 assists). Katie Virtue is the team leader with a 13.45 assists (1,116) per game average. Jackie Schardt (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) is second with a 6.94 (229) average. Gordon has a team-high 37 ace serves for a .32 per game average with Stiling second with 27 aces (.24) each. Ohio State averages 15.80 kills per game and is hitting .232. The Buckeyes average 1.33 aces, 13.86 digs and 2.29 blocks per game. OSU opponents average 13.07 kills per game and are hitting .184. Buckeye opponents average 1.19 aces, 12.86 digs and 2.96 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The Buckeyes have participated in 11 of the last 13 NCAA Championships and have a 15-11 (.577) record. OSU has advanced to regional competition eight times, the last in 2001. The Buckeyes advanced to the national semifinals in 1991 and 1994. Last year, Ohio State hosted first and second round matches and defeated Robert Morris 3-0 (30-17, 30-16, 30-13) in the first round and Cincinnati 3-1 (30-16, 22-30, 30-27, 30-20) in the second round. Ohio State lost to host Southern California 0-3 (25-30, 20-30, 27-30) in the regional semifinals.

A LOOK AT ROBERT MORRIS
The Colonials, coached by Tim Horsmon, finished the regular season 27-11. Robert Morris defeated Long Island 3-0 (30-26, 30-26, 30-20) on Nov. 24 to win their fourth straight Northeast Conference Tournament Championship. The victory gave the Colonials an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Robert Morris enters the NCAA Championship with an 11-match winning streak. Karla Barhorst is the team leader in kills per game at 3.59 (273) with Megan Bell second at 3.46 (284). Katie Noble is the top percentage hitter on the squad at .375. Setter Darcey Miller averages 11.28 assists (1,342) per game. Defensively, Traci Zureick averages a team-high 3.47 digs (43) per game with Barhorst second at 3.43 (261). At the net, Rachel Leitch has a team-high 1.00 blocks per game average on 21 solos and 24 assists. Cyndi Dunslow is second at .68 (33-36) and Noble, third at .66 (28-37). Robert Morris averages 14.99 kills per game and is hitting .236. The Colonials average 1.64 aces, 17.84 digs and 1.77 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.94 kills per game and are hitting .171. Robert Morris opponents average 1.11 aces, 16.45 digs and 1.97 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE – ROBERT MORRIS SERIES
Ohio State leads the series with Robert Morris 1-0. The squads played last season in the first round of the NCAA Championship, in Columbus. Ohio State won 3-0 (30-17, 30-16, 30-13).

ROBERT MORRIS IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The Colonials are making a fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship. Robert Morris is 0-3 in the championship.

A LOOK AT LOUISVILLE
The Cardinals, coached by Leonid Yelin, finished the regular season with a 27-5 record. Louisville earned a share of the regular season Conference USA Championship with South Florida, but lost to them 0-3 (27-30, 24-30, 20-30) in the conference tournament. The Cardinals ended the regular season with 3-0 wins over Xavier (30-16, 30-18, 30-20) and Dayton (30-20, 30-24, 30-21). Louisville was an at-large selection to the NCAA Championship. Bing Sun averages a team-high 4.36 kills (484) per game with Lena Ustymenko second at 3.27 (301). The top percentage hitter on the squad is Benny Flynn at .375. At setter, Jennifer Craven averages 13.12 assists (1.456) per game. Sun leads the team in aces per game at .33 (37) with Craven second at .31 (34). Defensively, Sarah Drury has a team-high 4.57 digs (503) per game average with Anastasia Zaitseva second at 2.82 (313). At the net, Flynn has a team-high 1.07 blocks per game average on 19 solos and 100 assists. Second on the team is Stacey Mercer at 1.05 (18-99). Louisville is averaging 16.39 kills per game and is hitting .268. The Cardinals average 1.49 aces, 17.14 digs and 2.69 kills per game. Opponents average 14.53 kills per game and are hitting .174. They average 1.07 aces, 15.52 digs and 1.80 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE – LOUISVILLE SERIES
Ohio State has won all five previous meetings with Louisville. Contests in 1976 and 1981 were played at neutral regular season tournament sites. The Buckeyes won home matches in 1981, 1984 and 1993. OSU won 3-1 (15-9, 9-15, 15-3, 15-8) in 1993.

LOUISVILLE IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The Cardinals are making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Championship. Louisville has a 6-12 record in the championship and are making a fifth consecutive appearance

A LOOK AT BALL STATE
The Cardinals, coached by Randy Litchfield, finished the regular season with a record of 25-7. Ball State won the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a 3-2 (25-30, 30-21, 33-31, 21-30, 15-9) over Akron. The victory gave the Cardinals an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Ball State enters the NCAA Championship with a 12-match winning streak. Katie Butts is the team leader in kills per game at 4.15 (511) with Sarah Obras second at 3.96 (491). Melissa Oliver has a team high hitting percentage of .267. Setter Stacie Baldwin averages 10.55 assists (1,245) per game. Butts is the team leader in aces (39) per game at .32. Defensively, Stephanie Keller is the team leader in digs (577) per game at 4.69 with Obras second at 2.91 (361). At the net Nikki Allen has a team-high 1.07 blocks per game average on 15 solos and 108 assists. Second is Oliver at .77 (8-63). Ball State averages 15.46 kills per game and is hitting .216. The Cardinals average 1.30 aces, 16.84 digs and 2.41 blocks per game. Cardinal opponents average 14.26 kills per game and are hitting .189. They average 1.50 aces, 17.40 digs and 2.46 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE – BALL STATE SERIES
Ohio State leads the series with Ball State, 13-6. OSU has won the last 12 meetings with the Cardinals and is 6-3 in matches played in Columbus. OSU’s last on-court match with Ball State was a 3-1 (16-14, 15-3, 14-16, 15-10) contest in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Championship that was later vacated.

BALL STATE IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
The Cardinals are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA Championship. Ball State has a 2-6 record in the Championship and last participated in the 2000 championship.

BUCKEYES FINISH 4TH IN CONFERENCE STANDINGS
After a 0-5 start in the Big Ten Conference standings, Ohio State has won 13 of the last 15 matches and finished in fourth place in the league standings. One of the biggest differences for the Buckeyes was the return of several student-athletes from earlier injuries. Ohio State has an eight-match winning streak that includes a home win over No. 13 Penn State and a road victory over No. 6 Minnesota.

OHIO STATE MOVES TO 19TH IN AVCA POLL Following a 3-0 won over Illinois and a 3-2 victory over Purdue, Ohio State has moved to 19th in the USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll. The Buckeyes were 20th last week and 25th the week before after a five-week absence from the Top-25. The Buckeyes began the season ranked ninth in the poll prior to a series of injuries.

VIRTUE BECOMES OSU CAREER ASSIST LEADER
With her 66 assists against the Purdue last week, Katie Virtue became Ohio State’s all-time career leader in assists with 5,546. She moved past Laura Davis (1991-94) who finished her career with 5,483. Virtue has been OSU’s career assist per game leader at 13.83. She was the conference statistical champion for league contests with a 13.88 per game average.

VIRTUE MOVES UP IN BLOCKING
Katie Virtue equaled her season-high of six assist blocks against Purdue and now has 223 career assist blocks. She has moved to 12th on the OSU career list and has passed Kristi Neuman (1983-86) with 222. In total blocks, Virtue now has 240 (17 solos, 223 assists) and is now 13th on the OSU career list. She passed Holly O’Leary (1987-90) with 237 (45-192).

GORDON TOPS FINAL CONFERENCE STATISTICS IN KILLS PER GAME
Stacey Gordon continues to lead the Big Ten in kills per game, overall at 5.91 and in conference matches at 5.87. In overall statistics, Gordon ranks fourth in digs at 3.39 and 10th in aces at .32 per game. She is seventh in aces at .30 per game in conference statistics and seventh in digs at 3.18.

GORDON CONTINUES DOUBLE-FIGURE KILLS STREAK
Stacey Gordon continued her consecutive streak of double-figure kill matches with 15 kills against Illinois and 34 against Purdue. She now has recorded double-figure kills in her last 45 matches. For her career, Gordon has double-figure kills in 58 of 60 matches and has 29 matches with 20 or more kills. Defensively, Gordon has 22 double-figure dig matches this season and 41 in her career. She has had 22 double-doubles (kills-digs) this season and 40 in her career.

GORDON RANKED THIRD NATIONALLY IN KILLS PER GAME LAST WEEK
Stacey Gordon, with a 5.90 kills per game average last week, was ranked third nationally in the national statistics release by the NCAA. Gordon has been in the top-5 in the country for most of the season. Ranked first is Aline Pereira of George Mason at 6.54 with Kim Willoughby of Hawaii second at 6.33.

GORDON REACHES 1,000 KILLS AS A SOPHOMORE
With eight kills against Michigan, Stacey Gordon became the first Ohio State sophomore to ever reach 1,000 kills. Six players reached 1,000 kills as juniors and seven as senior. The only exception to this is Vanessa Wouters (1996-97), a transfer from Southwest Missouri State who played her final two years at Ohio State. She reached 1,000 kills in her 46th match for OSU, but as a senior. Gordon, as a sophomore, reached 1,000 kills in her 53rd match. With 15 kills against Illinois and 34 against Purdue, Gordon now has 1,187 career kills and ranks 13th on the OSU career kills list.

GORDON HONORED AS BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOUR TIMES
Outside hitter Stacey Gordon has been honored four times this season as the Big Ten Player of the Week. She received back-to-back honors in early October, first in losses to Michigan State (2-3) and Michigan (0-3) on the road and then was Co-Player of the Week in a loss to Wisconsin (1-3) and in the win against Northwestern (3-0) in home matches. In November, she was honored for wins over Michigan (3-1) and Michigan State (3-1) and for road wins at Iowa (3-1) and at sixth-ranked Minnesota (3-0). In her freshman season, Gordon was named Big Ten Player of the Week three times.

DRAEGER MOVES TO 16TH IN CAREER TOTAL BLOCKS
With two assist blocks against Purdue, Shelly Draeger has raised her career total blocks to 215 (13 solos, 202 assists) and has moved to 16th on the OSU career list.. She passed Jenny Collins (1982-85) on the list with 214 blocks (84-130).

HIGGINS HAS CAREER HIGH HITTING PERCENTAGE
Stephanie Higgins hit .556 against Illinois to set a new career high. She had 12 kills, two errors in 18 attempts against the Illini. Her previous best was .538 (7-0-13) against Cleveland State.

HIGGINS ROLLS SEVEN AGAIN IN ASSIST BLOCKS
For the sixth time this season, Stephanie Higgins has equaled her career-high of seven assist blocks against Purdue. She established her career high at Illinois-Chicago and has hit seven assists at Michigan, vs. Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana. Higgins has four solo and 108 assists for a .99 blocks per game average on the season. In conference play she is averaging 1.05 blocks per game on two solos and 84 assists.

STILING MOVES TO SEVENTH IN CAREER KILLS
With her 14 kills against Purdue, Suzie Stiling has moved to seventh on the OSU career kills list with 1,345. She moved out of a tie with Dana Stearns (1997-00) who has 1,331.

STILING NOW NO. 2 IN CAREER ASSIST BLOCKS
With seven assist blocks against Purdue, Suzie Stiling has moved to second in OSU career assist blocks with 385. She passed Dana Stearns (1997-00) who has 380 assists for second place. Stiling also ranks No. 2 in OSU career total blocks with 447 with 62 solo and 380 assists.

KASTEIN DIGS TO CAREER HIGH AGAINST PURDUE
With 16 digs against Purdue, Rebecca Kastein (Fr., Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) had her best match of the season and established a new career-high in digs. Her previous best was 14 in three matches. Kastein has had 11 matches this season with double-figure digs and has a streak of five matches going into the NCAA Championship.

ANDERSSON SETS CAREER HIGH HITTING PERCENTAGE
Anna Andersson (Fr., Angelholm, Sweden) improved her career-high hitting percentage to .250 in the Purdue match. She had nine kills, four errors in 20 attempts to set her career high. Her previous best was .200 against Cleveland State (6-2-20) earlier this season.

BUCKEYES HURT BY INJURIES
Ohio State, in the first four weeks of the season, was hit hard by injuries, The Buckeyes had five players injured in the first month of action with four now back in action. Maria Pongonis (Fr., Cincinnati, Ohio) suffered a foot stress fracture the opening week of the season in Hawaii and missed 12 matches. She has returned to action. Setter Katie Virtue fractured her hand at the Illinois-Chicago match and missed seven matches before returning to action. Setter Jackie Schardt suffered a concussion on Sept. 17 and missed three matches before being cleared to play. The next day, Katherine Grant (Fr., Nashville, Tenn.) dislocated her elbow during the Miami (Ohio) match and was lost for the rest of the season. Anna Andersson then sprained her knee on Sept. 20 and missed eight matches before returning to action. Several additional injuries have resulted with little or now matches missed. The exception would be Brie Hagerty (Fr., Defiance, Ohio) with an early November knee injury that has removed her from competition. In addition, defensive specialist Heather Whalen (Jr., Kalamazoo, Mich.) missed two matches with a concussion. Playing with injures are Shelly Draeger (knee), Stacey Gordon (leg) and Amanda Miller (Fr., Littleton, Colo.) (leg). In all, ten of the current 13 players have had some type of injury this season, with two not playing. Injuries to five other players resulted in missed matches.

WHO IS STARTING?
Because of the five early season injuries for the Buckeyes, Ohio State has tried to find the right starting combination with the available players. In 29 matches, the Buckeyes have used 12 different starting combinations and at one point used a different lineup in 10 consecutive matches. Each of the 14 student-athletes has now started at least one match this season.

#20 OHIO STATE 3, ILLINOIS 0
Ohio State captured its seventh consecutive victory with a 3-0 (30-17, 30-27, 30-27) win over Illinois. OSU’s Stacey Gordon had a match-high 15 kills with Suzie Stiling and Stephanie Higgins adding 12 each. Melissa Vandrey had a team-high seven kills for Illinois with Rachel VanMeter adding six. OSU took the early lead in game one to win 30-17. After an Illinois 4-3 lead in game two, OSU took the lead and built a 20-14 lead. Illinois rallied to tie the game at 20. Leading 28-27, a solo block by Gordon and a Higgins kill ended the game at 30-27. OSU built up a 26-19 lead in game three. Leading 29-24, Illinois stopped three match points making it 29-27. Gordon’s kill ended the game at 30-27. Ohio State hit .321 for the match to .078 for Illinois. The Buckeyes had a 55-33 advantage in kill while Illinois out served OSU, 5-2. The Buckeyes gave up 10 service errors to six for the Illini. Defensively, Ohio State had a 53-33 margin in digs with OSU’s Rebecca Kastein recording a match-high 14. The Illini had a 10-8 advantage in blocks. OSU’s setter Katie Virtue collected a match-high 43 assists to 29 for Illinois’ Betsy Eiserman.

#20 OHIO STATE 3, PURDUE 2
With 34 kills from Stacey Gordon and 14 from Suzie Stiling, the Buckeyes defeated Purdue 3-2 (27-30, 30-20, 30-23, 23-30, 15-13). OSU ends the season with an eight-match winning streak and has won 13 of the last 15 matches after starting conference play 0-5. Purdue’s Joanna Lowry had a team-high 14 kills with Kim McConaha adding 12. Purdue, from a 27-all tie in game one, won 30-27. OSU won games two and three and Purdue won game four to tie the match. Purdue held the lead at 10-7. OSU then outscored Purdue 7-1 to lead 14-11. The Buckeyes with a Gordon kill won 15-13. Ohio State hit .197 for the match to Purdue’s .114. The Buckeyes had a 72-51-kill advantage and had a 6-5 margin in ace serves. OSU’s Gordon recorded a match-high three aces. Defensively, the Buckeyes enjoyed an 84-46 advantage in digs. OSU’s Rebecca Kastein recorded a match and career-high 16 digs. At the net, OSU had a 15.5 to 14 margin in team blocks. Purdue’s McConaha had a match-high eight blocks with a solo and seven assists. OSU’s Katie Virtue collected a match-high 66 assists in the match to 38 for Renata Dargan. Virtue became OSU’s career assist leader in the match and now has 5,546.

BUCKEYE HEAD COACH JIM STONE
Jim Stone is in his 21st season at Ohio State. He has a 428-239 record with the Buckeyes and is 249-138 in Big Ten play. His squads have won Big Ten Championships in 1989, 1991 and 1994 and in the last 13 years have finished in the Top 3 in the league 10 times. In the championship years, he was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and was the 1991 Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year. Under Stone, Ohio State has participated in the NCAA championship in 11 of the last 13 years, advancing to the national semifinals in 1991 and 1994. Stone’s coaching career record includes three years at Wyoming (1979-1981). His 23-year career record is 478-281.