COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State (3-0 overall) women’s volleyball team, with a 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh (0-3), captured their second consecutive Sports Imports Classic title in St. John Arena Saturday night. OSU’s Katie Dull posted a match-high 15.5 points with 11 kills, one ace serve, two solo blocks and three assist blocks. Anna Szerszen contributed 13.5 points with 13 kills and one assist block and Emily Danks recorded 13 points with seven kills and a career-high six ace serves. Pittsburgh’s Amy Town and Brittany Lhota each recorded eight points in the match. Town had eight kills while Lhota had seven kills and a solo block.

With set one tied at two, a Dull kill and five consecutive ace serves from Danks opened an 8-3 Buckeye lead. Trailing, 12-5, Pittsburgh went on an 8-2 scoring run to trail by one at 14-13. A Danks kill and a Dull solo block made it 16-13. The Buckeyes held the lead reaching set point at 24-19 with a kill from Danks. Imani Harper, with a kill, stopped the set point at 24-20. Danks closed out the set with another kill at 25-20 to give Ohio State a 1-0 lead in the match. The Buckeyes hit .323 for the set to .321 for Pittsburgh.

The second set saw eight ties, the last coming at 11-all. A Panther error and a kill and ace serve from Danks gave Ohio State a 14-11 lead. An OSU error and kills from Kelli Barhorst and Szerszen made the OSU lead, 16-12. Pittsburgh responded with kills from Amy Town, Jenn Katona and Lhota to cut the margin to one at 16-15. A Betsy Hone kill and a Szerszen-Allie Schwarzwalder block made it 18-15, OSU. Kills from Lhota and Szerszen and an OSU error made it 19-17. Another OSU error cut the lead to one at 19-18. An Allie Schwarzwalder kill and two from Danks opened a 22-18 Buckeye lead. A Panther error and a kill from Dull made it set point at 24-18. A solo block from Allie Schwarzwalder ended the set at 25-18 and gave OSU a 2-0 lead in the match. The Buckeyes hit .484 in the set to .242 for Pittsburgh.

With the third set tied at two, a Panther error, a Hone solo block and kills from Dull and Barhorst gave Ohio State a 6-2 lead. At 9-6, a kill and ace serve from Hone and a Panther error made it 12-6 Buckeyes. Pittsburgh cut into the lead at 12-8 before a Szerszen kill, a Panther error and Dull solo block made the lead 15-8. At 22-17, a Szerszen kill made the lead six. Pittsburgh cut the lead to four at 23-19 off a Michelle Walker kill and a Buckeye error. A Panther error gave Ohio State match point at 24-19. The Buckeyes won the set, 25-19, with a Barhorst-Dull block, winning the match, 3-0. Ohio State hit .258 for the set to .161 for the Panthers.

Ohio State hit .355 for the match to .239 for Pittsburgh. The Buckeyes had a 43-39 edge in kills and a 39-38 margin in assists. OSU’s Hone posted a match-high 34 assists against the Panthers. The Buckeyes recorded 10 ace serves in the match to two for the Panthers. Danks posted a match-high six ace serves. The Buckeyes gave up six service errors to five for Pittsburgh. Defensively, the Panthers had a 38-30 advantage in digs with Margy Acton and Town sharing match-high honors with 10 each. At the net, OSU had a 10 to one margin in team blocks. OSU’s Dull and Allie Schwarzwalder shared match-high honors with five blocks each. Dull posted two solos and three assist blocks while Schwarzwalder had three solos and two assists.

Named to the 2010 Sports Imports All-Tournament team were Courtney Hott from Virginia Commonwealth, Amy Town from Pittsburgh, Sam Viox from Western Michigan and Hone and Barhorst from Ohio State. OSU’s Sarah Mignin was named the most outstanding player.

The Buckeyes next travel to Lexington, Ky., to play in the Kentucky Classic. OSU faces South Florida at 5 p.m., Friday Sept. 3. The Buckeyes continue play Saturday, Sept. 3 with a 1 p.m. match against Miami (Ohio) and plays host Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. The Kentucky Classis is the first of four consecutive weeks that Ohio State will play on the road.

Quoting Geoff Carlston, Ohio State head coach

On the tournament win setting the tone for the season

“It’s still early, but this is a pretty tough tournament. There were three teams that are likely going to be in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. There were three very different teams. I liked our team. We had our moments where we struggled, but I like the fact that we ground through it, which is something you have to do when you get into Big Ten season. It’s nice to come in and go 3-0 and I’m happy with what we did. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but I definitely saw some good things over the weekend.”

On strengths and weaknesses

“I thought our ball control and our defense was pretty good. It’s going to be a strength of ours I think this year. I liked our blocking at times, but we struggled with it in our last match against Pitt. I think overall our blocking is getting better and we’re trying overall to just have an aggressive mentality. Whenever we had a chance to take a good swing, I thought for the most part, we took those swings and that’s what you need to do. You can’t be playing tentative. I thought for the most part we played consistently aggressive.”

On tournament standouts

“I thought Sarah Mignin and Davionna (DiSalvatore) and Susan Halverson really solidified our ball control and they did a really nice job. I think Emily Danks did some good thing also and Betsy (Hone) did a nice job of setting the ball around too. But the three back-row kids (Mignin, DiSalvatore and Halverson) set the tone and led us this weekend.”

On staying motivated during upcoming away matches

“We have a huge weekend next weekend and we play three really good teams again. Kentucky is in top 12 and South Florida and Miami (Ohio) will be tough. It’s pretty motivating. We’re just so happy to be playing someone else other than ourselves. Two and a half weeks of seeing the same people on the other side of the net gets a little boring. We need to stay healthy. We’ll start to taper down a little bit practice-wise to make sure that we’re healthy going into next weekend.”

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