Oct. 27, 2004

With four of six starters returning from last year’s Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season champions, Ohio State looks to continue to stay at the top of the league standings. The Buckeyes were 21-9 overall and finished with a 13-3 mark in the MIVA to win its 18th league championship. A solid group of veteran players will anchor the Buckeyes and provide strong leadership to a large incoming class of freshmen.

Starting Outside Hitters Return
All three of the starting outside hitters return from last season for the Buckeyes. Mike Wauligman, Andy Cole and Marks Greaves combined for 85 of 90 starts last season. Wauligman, a fifth-year senior, hit .227 and averaged 2.74 kills and 1.66 digs last season. He also has seen action at the libero position. Cole, a junior, was a second team MIVA All-Conference selection and was named to the MIVA All-Tournament team. He averaged 3.62 kills and 1.43 digs while hitting .245. Greaves, a junior, hit .251 last season while averaging 3.29 kills and 1.71 digs. He had the only triple-double (12 kills, 15 digs, 10 assist blocks) in the country last season.

Seeing action last year were Stuart Katz and Sam Stevens. Katz, a senior with junior eligibility, saw action in 15 matches last season with one start. He saw some play at libero. Katz hit .241 last year and average 1.25 kills and .80 digs per game. Stevens, a junior with sophomore elgibility, played in all 30 matches last season and had three starts. He recorded a career-high 12 kills against Brigham Young in 2004.

Sophomores Matthew Hankey and Brett Versen saw no action last season and are playing with freshmen eligibility. Hankey earned Player of the Year honors from the Daily Herald and the Naperville Sun. Versen, a two-time state champion and a first-team all-state selection as a senior in high school, was named to the Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50”. Two incoming freshmen Robert Klein and Carlos Ramirez, give Ohio State great depth on the outside. Klein helped Moeller High School win the 2004 Ohio State Championship. Ramirez has been a member of the Puerto Rico National program.

Spurlock Returns in the Middle
Senior middle hitter Scott Spurlock is the lone returning starter in the middle. A second-team MIVA all-conference selection, he hit .410 last season and averaged 2.09 kills and 1.39 blocks per game. Layne Dreven is the other returning letter winner in the middle. A junior with sophomore eligibility, he saw action in 18 matches with four starts. Dreven hit .275 and averaged 1.76 kills and .98 blocks per game.

Depth in the middle will come from freshmen John Albertson, Ben Spurlock and Tim Steadman. Albertson was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior. Spurlock, the brother of teammate Scott, was named to the Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50”. Steadman was also a Volleyball Magazine “Fab 50” selection. His club team finished second in the 2004 Junior Olympics.

Limited Experience at Setter
With the departure of four-year starter Mark Peckham, the setter position is up for grabs. Sophomore Joerel Morales saw limited action last season in three matches with one start. Freshmen Daniel Mathews comes in with extensive experience on the USA Volleyball Junior National Program with international exposure.

Libero Position Is Solid
Sophomore Dan Meske was the starting libero in all 30 matches last season. He averaged 2.04 digs per game as a freshmen and ranked seventh in the MIVA with a 2.00 average. Freshman libero/outside hitter Conor Martin, a first-team all-state selection, helped St. Edward High School win a regional championship.

Departing Players Played Key Roles
Three players closed out their careers last season with Ohio State. Setter Mark Peckham and middle hitter Adam Pedersen were starters last season while outside hitter Ricardo Garcia was a starter in 2002. Peckham and Pedersen were first-team All-MIVA selections last season. Peckham finished third in OSU career statistics with 4,723 assists while Pedersen was four in career attack percentage at .445 and was third in career total blocks with 427. Garcia saw action in 20 matches last year after sitting out the 2003 season.

Schedule Features Four Ranked Opponents
Ohio State’s 28-match schedule will have the Buckeyes play nine matches against seven opponents ranked in the final USA TODAY/AVCA poll from last season. OSU will face three MIVA opponents, both home and away that were ranked last season. They include No. 9 Lewis, No. 12 Ball State and No. 13 Loyola (Chicago). The fourth ranked opponent is non-conference rival, No. 7 Penn State which the Buckeyes will face three times this season, at home and away and at the Golden Dome Classic at Rutgers-Newark. Ohio State will play 14 home contests this season including a seaon-opening five matches in January.

Potential for Greatness
Building on last year’s championship run, Ohio State looks to continue to become a better team and improve on last year’s finish.