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Oct. 23, 2002

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State (9-8 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) women’s volleyball team completes the first half of the Big Ten Conference round robin schedule with home contests against eighth-ranked Minnesota (20-3, 7-1) and Iowa (8-10, 2-6). The Buckeyes host Minnesota at 7 p.m., Fri., Oct. 25 and faces Iowa at 1 p.m., Sun., Oct. 27. The Ohio News Network will carry both matches with Arica Robbins calling the play-by-play and former OSU All-American Audrey (DiPronio) Flaugh handling the color. ONN will broadcast the Minnesota match at 1 p.m., Sat., Oct. 26 and plans to carry the Iowa match live.

A LOOK AT OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes, coached by Jim Stone, are 8-9 overall and 3-5 in Big Ten play. Last week Ohio State on the road defeated Purdue 3-1 (23-30, 32-30, 30-28, 30-25) and Illinois 3-2 (30-24, 24-30, 27-30, 30-16, 15-6). Stacey Gordon (So., Oshawa, Ontario) leads Ohio State with a 6.09 kills (396) and a 3.63 digs (236) per game average. Suzie Stiling (Sr., Glenview, Ill.) ranks second in kills at 2.75 (179) and is second in blocks per game at .85 (nine solos, 46 assists). Shelly Draeger (Sr., Milwaukee, Wis.) is third in kills at 2.63 (171). Freshman Stephanie Higgins (Fr., Biggsville, Ill.) leads the team in blocks with a .95 per game average (three solos, 58 assists). Katie Virtue (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.) is the team leader with an 13.26 assist (451) per game average. Jackie Schardt (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) is second with a 8.81 (229) average. Gordon has a team-high 22 ace serves for a .34 per game average with Stiling second with 18 aces (.28) each. Ohio State averages 15.63 kills per game and is hitting .223. The Buckeyes average 1.48 aces, 13.94 digs and 2.05 blocks per game. OSU opponents average 13.18 kills per game and are hitting .210. Buckeye opponents average 1.29 aces, 12.69 digs and 2.68 blocks per game. A LOOK AT MINNESOTA
The Golden Gophers, coached by Dr. Mike Herbert, are 20-3 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten. Eighth-ranked Minnesota won at Iowa 3-1 (30-27, 23-30, 30-27, 31-29) and defeated eighth-ranked Penn State 3-0 (30-27, 30-20, 30-19). Cassie Busse tops the team in kills per game at 4.18 (318) with Erin Martin second at 3.36 (255). The top percentage hitter on the squad is Jessica Byrnes at .315. Running the offense is Lindsey Vander Well at 12.53 assists (990) per game. Busse is the team leader in aces per game at .61 (46) and ranks second in blocking at 1.00 per game on five solos and 71 assists. Bethany Brafford leads the team in blocking at 1.01 with four solos and 71 assists. Minnesota is averaging 15.60 kills per game and is hitting .244. The Golden Gophers average 2.05 aces, 16.42 digs and 2.58 blocks per game. Minnesota opponents average 12.85 kills per game and are hitting .144. Gopher opponents average 1.06 aces, 15.44 digs and 2.06 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE – MINNESOTA SERIES
Ohio State has a 26-11 lead in the series with Minnesota. The Buckeyes have a 14-5 margin in matches played in Columbus while the Gophers have a 10-9 advantage in matches played in Minneapolis and lead 5-2 in neutral court matches. OSU has won the last two matches, defeating Minnesota 3-2 (27-30, 30-17, 21-30, 30-26, 15-11) in Columbus and 3-1 (30-26, 30-24, 32-34, 30-27) in Minneapolis.

A LOOK AT IOWA
The Hawkeyes, coached by Rita Buck-Crockett, are 8-10 overall and 2-6 in the Big Ten. In home matches last week, Iowa lost 3-1 (30-27, 23-30, 30-27, 31-29) to Minnesota and 3-0 (30-23, 32-30, 30-25) to eighth-ranked Penn State. Renee Hill is the team leader in kills per game at 3.75 (225) with Echaka Agba second at 2.81 (152). Amoreena Reynolds leads the team in hitting percentage at .258. Running the offense is Jitka Stehnova with a 11.53 assist (715) per game average. Pam Kavadas is the team leader in digs per game at 3.56 (221). At the net Abby Tjaden leads the team in blocks per game at 1.05 with 10 solos and 48 assists. Iowa averages 15.08 kills per game and is hitting .193. The Hawkeyes average 1.37 aces, 16.21 digs and 2.34 blocks per game. Iowa opponents average 15.58 kills per game and are hitting .227. Hawkeye opponents average 1.11 aces, 16.37 digs and 2.31 blocks per game.

OHIO STATE – IOWA SERIES
Ohio State has a 35-8 margin in the series with Iowa. The Buckeyes are 18-4 in matches played in Columbus, 14-4 at Iowa and 3-0 on neutral courts. Ohio State has not lost an on-court match to the Hawkeyes since 1988. The Buckeyes had won 28 consecutive matches prior to forfeits in 1999 and 2000. Last season, OSU won 3-1 (30-22, 28-30, 30-17, 30-11) in Columbus and 3-1 (30-22, 30-26, 27-30, 30-27) in Iowa City.

WHO IS STARTING?
Because of the five injuries for the Buckeyes, Ohio State has tried to find the right starting combination with the available players. In 17 matches, the Buckeyes have used 12 different starting combinations and prior to using the same lineup in the last four matches had a different starting lineup in each of the previous nine matches. Each of the 14 student-athletes has now started at least one match this season.

VIRTUE RECORDS SEASON-HIGH 64 ASSISTS, TWICE
In back-to-back matches, Katie Virtue recorded a season-high 64 assists at Purdue and Illinois. Her previous high this season was 62 at Illinois-Chicago. Virtue also had a season-high 14 digs at Purdue.

VIRTUE, WITH BEST CONFERENCE ASSIST AVERAGE, BUT UNRANKED
With a 14.81 assist per game average on 237 assists, Katie Virtue has the best assist average in the Big Ten, but is not listed in the conference statistics. Recovering from a hand injury, she missed the first four Big Ten matches this season and does not qualify for conference statistics because of playing in less than half of OSU’s conference games. Wisconsin’s Morgan Shields at 13.72 currently leads the Big Ten in conference games. Virtue ranks fourth in overall conference statistics with a 13.26 per game average with Shields leading the statistics at 13.92

DRAEGER EQUALS CAREER-HIGH 20 KILLS AT PURDUE
With 20 kills at Purdue, Shelly Draeger equaled her career high against the Boilermakers. She had 20 against Toledo in 2000. Draeger hit .325 against the Boilermakers adding four blocks (1-3), five digs, eight assists and an ace serve. She had 16 kills (.366) at Illinois collecting seven digs, two assist blocks and a career-high nine assists against the Illini. Her 36 kills for the weekend raises her career total to 1,055 and moved her to 13th on the OSU career list. She passed Sherri Helman (1993-96) with 1,049.

HAGERTY STEPS UP WITH TWO 10-KILL PERFORMANCES
Brie Hagerty (Fr., Defiance, Ohio) recorded 10 kills at Purdue and at Illinois for her career high. Her previous mark was nine at Penn State. Hagerty hit .273 against Purdue for her career-high adding a solo block and a dig. Against Illinois, she had a career-high five assist blocks and added four digs.

HIGGINS RECORDS CAREER-HIGH 13 KILLS AT PURDUE
With 13 kills against the Boilermakers, Stephanie Higgins recorded a career high. Her previous best was 10 against Loyola-Chicago. Higgins hit .357 against Purdue and added four assist blocks. Higgins had seven kills (.200), six assist blocks and equaled her career-high of five digs against the Illini.

STILING PRODUCES SEASON-HIGH 18 KILLS AT ILLINOIS
With a season-high 18 kills at Illinois, Suzie Stiling had an outstanding weekend. She hit .389 adding five blocks (1-4), five digs and an ace serve against the Illini. She had 15 kills (.345), four blocks (1-3), four digs and an ace serve at Purdue. Her seven assist blocks on the weekend raises her career total to 325 and moves her to fourth on the OSU career list, passing Jenny Jackson (1992-95) with 322. With one solo and 34 assist blocks, Higgins ranks eighth in the Big Ten in conference statistics with a 1.06 per game average.

PONGONIS RETURNS TO ACTION
Maria Pongonis (Fr., Cincinnati, Ohio) saw action at Purdue after missing the previous 12 matches with a foot injury. She started the first three matches of the season in Hawaii. Pongonis recorded two digs against the Boilermakers.

GORDON COLLECTS CAREER-TYING 21 DIGS AT ILLINOIS
With 21 digs at Illinois, Stacey Gordon equaled her career high set against Penn State in 2001. She had 17 digs at Purdue to average 4.22 digs per game for the weekend. She has had double-figure digs in 12 of 17 matches this season.

GORDON TOPS CONFERENCE STATISTICS IN KILLS PER GAME
Stacey Gordon continues to lead the Big Ten in kills per game, overall at 6.09 and in conference matches at 6.15. In overall statistics, Gordon ranks second in digs at 3.63 and 13th in aces at .34 per game.

GORDON CONTINUES DOUBLE-FIGURE KILLS STREAK
Stacey Gordon continued her consecutive streak of double-figure kill matches with 21 at Purdue and 24 at Illinois. She now has recorded double-figure kills in her last 33 matches. For her career, Gordon has double-figure kills in 46 of 48 matches and has 21 matches with 20 or more kills. Defensively, Gordon has 31 matches with double-figure digs in her career and recorded a season-high 21 digs at Illinois to equal her career high. She has had 30 double-doubles (kills-digs) in her career.

GORDON RANKED THIRD NATIONALLY IN KILLS PER GAME LAST WEEK
Stacey Gordon, with a 6.27 kills per game average last week, was ranked third nationally in the national statistics release by the NCAA. She currently has a 6.09 per game average. The NCAA national leaders will be released later this week on the NCAA web site at http://goomer.ncaa.org:8080/stats/reports’sportCode=WVB&rpt=wkly. National leaders from last week are listed below:

VERSATILE WHALEN PLAYING THE BACK ROW
Be it playing at setter, the libero position or as a defensive specialist Heather Whalen (Jr., Kalamazoo, Mich.) is ready to do the job. She played as the libero in five of the first seven matches of the season. Whalen then had three starts at setter when both regular setters went down with injuries. Whalen has started the last four matches as a back row defensive specialist and ranks second on the team in digs (136) with a 2.23 per game average. She had a career-high 18 digs at Illinois last weekend. As the starting setter, Whalen averaged 12.00 assists per game recording a career-high 56 assists at Penn State.

KASTEIN HANDLING THE LIBERO DUTIES
After the first start of her career at Michigan as a defensive specialist, Rebecca Kastein (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.) has played the last four matches at the libero position. She recorded a career-high 14 digs against Wisconsin as the libero. Kastein is the fourth Buckeye to play the position this season with Heather Whalen, Tamika Drake (Jr., Euclid, Ohio) and Anna Andersson (Fr., Angelholm, Sweden).

BUCKEYES HURT BY INJURIES
Ohio State, in the first four weeks of the season, was hit hard by injuries. The Buckeyes returned from Hawaii to find out that outside hitter Maria Pongonis (Fr., Cincinnati, Ohio) had a stress fracture in her left foot. Two weeks later setter Katie Virtue (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.) suffered a fracture to her right hand during the road match at Illinois-Chicago. The day prior to the Miami (OH) match, setter Jackie Schardt (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) suffered a concussion in practice. The next day outside hitter Katherine Grant (Fr., Nashville, Tenn.) suffered a dislocated elbow during the match with the RedHawks. The following Friday in practice, Anna Andersson (Fr., Angelholm, Sweden) suffered a knee sprain. Three of the five student-athletes have returned to competition. Schardt returned to action with starts at Michigan State and Michigan, Virtue returned to start against Wisconsin and Northwestern and Pongonis saw action at Purdue. Pongonis started all three matches in Hawaii while Virtue had six starts prior to her injury. Schardt, who replaced Virtue, had started two matches as had Grant. Andersson had four starts prior to her injury.

OHIO STATE 3, PURDUE 1
Ohio State overcame late Purdue leads in games two and three to take a 3-1 (23-30, 32-30, 30-28, 30-25) victory over the Boilermakers. Five Buckeyes scored double-figure kills with Stacey Gordon recording a team-high 21 and Shelly Draeger 20. Also in double-figure were Suzie Stiling (15), Stephanie Higgins (13) and Brie Hagerty (10). Purdue’s Joanna Lowry scored a match-high 23 kills with Kim McConaha adding 12 and Tiffany Yoskey and Marie Franke, 10 each. Down 25-21 in game two, OSU held off two game points, tying the game at 29 before winning 32-30. Game three had a 27-23 lead before OSU tied the game at 28 going on to a 30-28 win. For the match, Purdue out hit OSU, .329-.274. OSU produced a season-high 80 kills to 65 for Purdue. The Buckeyes had a 4-3 margin in aces but gave up 13 service error to 11 for Purdue. OSU had a 59-54 advantage in digs with Gordon recording a match-high 17. At the net, Purdue had an 11-10 margin in blocks. Boilermaker McConaha had a match-high six blocks (2-4) while OSU’s Higgins (0-4), Stiling (1-3) and Draeger (1-3) collected four blocks each. OSU’s Katie Virtue had a season-high 64 assists while Renata Dargan recorded 56.

OHIO STATE 3, ILLINOIS 2
After trailing 2-1 in the match, Ohio State rallied to win 3-2 (30-24, 24-30, 27-30, 30-16, 15-6) at Illinois, holding the Illini to a .000 hitting percentage in the final two games. Stacey Gordon had a team-high 24 kills with Suzie Stiling adding 18 and Shelly Draeger 16 for the Buckeyes. Lisa Argabright scored 14 kills for Illinois with Melissa Vandrey adding 12. OSU overcame a 10-1 Illinois lead to win game one, 30-24. Illinois scored six straight points at 24-all to capture game two. The Buckeyes held a 26-16 lead in game four before winning 30-16, scoring the final four points of the game. With the Buckeyes leading 8-6 in game five, Ohio State scored the next seven point to win the match. OSU had a 79-48 kill margin and out hit Illinois, .262-.117. The Illini had an 11-7 advantage in aces with OSU giving up 15 service errors to nine for Illinois. The Buckeyes had an 82-62 margin in digs with OSU’s Gordon recording a career-tying 21. The Illini out blocked Ohio State, 13-11.5 with Argabright recording a match-high seven (2-5) blocks. OSU’s Katie Virtue equaled her season-high of 64 assists in the match.

BUCKEYE HEAD COACH JIM STONE
Jim Stone is in his 21st season at Ohio State. He has a 418-237 record with the Buckeyes and is 239-136 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 468-279.

NEXT WEEK FOR OHIO STATE
Ohio State begins the second half of the Big Ten schedule with road matches at Northwestern and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes face Northwestern in Evanston at 7 p.m., Fri., Nov. 1 and then plays at Wisconsin at 7 p.m., Sat., Nov. 2 in a match that will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m., Sun., Nov. 3.