Oct. 29, 2002

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State (10-9 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) women’s volleyball team begins the second half of the Big Ten Conference round robin schedule with road contests at Northwestern (13-9, 6-4) and 15th-ranked Wisconsin (15-6, 6-4). The Buckeyes face with Wildcats of Northwestern at 7 p.m., Fri., Nov. 1 in Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117). OSU completes the road trip with the Badgers of Wisconsin at 7 p.m., Sat., Nov. 2 in the Wisconsin Field House (10,800). The Wisconsin match will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. EDT, Sun., Nov. 3. Chris Marlowe will call the play-by-play with Heather Cox providing the color.

The Buckeyes, coached by Jim Stone, are 10-9 overall and 4-6 in Big Ten play. Ohio State split home matches last week losing 3-2 (24-30, 30-22, 28-30, 30-24, 15-6) to eighth-ranked Minnesota and defeating Iowa 3-1 (31-29, 32-34, 30-28, 30-17). Stacey Gordon (So., Oshawa, Ontario) leads Ohio State with a 5.95 kills (440) and a 3.47 digs (257) per game average. Suzie Stiling (Sr., Glenview, Ill.) ranks second in kills at 2.84 (210) and is second in blocks per game at .85 (10 solos, 53 assists). Shelly Draeger (Sr., Milwaukee, Wis.) is third in kills at 2.68 (198). Freshman Stephanie Higgins (Fr., Biggsville, Ill.) leads the team in blocks with a .97 per game average (three solos, 68 assists). Katie Virtue (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.) is the team leader with a 13.44 assist (578) per game average. Jackie Schardt (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) is second with an 8.48 (229) average. Gordon has a team-high 26 ace serves for a .35 per game average with Stiling second with 18 aces (.24) each. Ohio State averages 15.69 kills per game and is hitting .224. The Buckeyes average 1.38 aces, 13.85 digs and 2.07 blocks per game. OSU opponents average 13.24 kills per game and are hitting .207. Buckeye opponents average 1.28 aces, 12.53 digs and 2.76 blocks per game. A LOOK AT NORTHWESTERN
The Wildcats, coached by Keylor Chan, are 13-9 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten currently in a four-way tie for third place in the conference. Last week Northwestern defeated #15 Wisconsin 3-0 (30-22, 43-41, 30-24) and lost at Penn State 0-3 (23-30, 27-30, 21-30). Erika Lange is the team leader in kills (289) per game at 4.25, blocks (18 solo and 85 assists) per game at 1.51 and is the top percentage hitter on the squad at .368. Iwona Lodzik is second in kills (264) per game at 3.43 and is the team leader in aces (32) per game at .42. Drew Robertson runs the offense and has an 11.65 assist (932) per game average. Defensively, Lizzie Carlson leads the team in digs (217) per game at 2.78 with Robertson second at 2.74 (219). At the net Sarah Ballog ranks second behind Lange with a .81 blocks per game average on 10 solos and 53 assists. Northwestern averages 15.32 kills per game and is hitting .213. The Wildcats average 1.86 aces, 14.09 digs and 2.61 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.82 kills per game and are hitting .195. Wildcat opponents average 1.29 aces, 13.10 digs and 2.32 blocks per game.

Ohio State has a 35-13 lead in the series with Northwestern. The Buckeyes defeated the Wildcats 3-0 (30-24, 30-27, 30-22), in Columbus, on Oct. 12 this season. OSU has won 12 of 19 matches played in Evanston and is 17-4 in Columbus and 6-2 on neutral courts. Ohio State has won the last three matches played including a 3-1 (27-30, 30-21, 30-15, 30-19) decision last season at Northwestern.

The Badgers, coached by Pete Waite, are 15-6 overall and are 6-4 in the Big Ten, currently in a four-way tie for third in the conference. Wisconsin, ranked 15th last week, lost at Northwestern 0-3 (22-30, 41-43, 24-30) and won at 9th-ranked Penn State 3-2 (23-30, 32-30, 21-30, 30-28, 15-10). Erin Bryd is the team leader in kills (311) per game with a 4.15 average. She also leads the team in digs (225) per game at 3.00. Lori Rittenhouse is the top percentage hitter on the squad at .247. Morgan Shields quarterbacks the offense and averages 14.08 assists (1,070) per game. Shields is the team leader in aces (53) per game at .70. At the net, Amy Hultgren is the top blocker of the squad with a .97 blocks per game average on five solos and 66 assists. Rittenhouse ranks second at .83 with eight solos and 51 assists. Wisconsin averages 17.63 kills per game and is hitting .285. The Badgers average 1.71 aces, 15.45 digs and 2.17 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.70 kills per game and are hitting .196. Badger opponents average 1.05 aces, 13.89 digs and 2.24 blocks per game.

Ohio State has a 25-19 margin in the series against Wisconsin. Earlier this season on Oct. 11, OSU lost 3-1 (30-26, 30-27, 28-30, 30-26) to the Badgers in Columbus. In Madison, the Buckeyes are 11-10 against Wisconsin. OSU is 12-8 in Columbus and each squad has won two matches on neutral courts. The Badgers are credited with wins against Ohio State in the last 11 meetings. The streak includes two matches played in Madison that were OSU wins but were later forfeited. Both were 3-2 decisions on the court. OSU won 14-16, 15-9, 3-15, 15-12, 15-10 in 1999 and 14-16, 10-15, 15-11, 17-15, and 15-12 in 2000.

After losing the first five matches of the Big Ten Conference schedule, the Buckeyes with the return of key injured players, went 4-1 in the final five matches of the first round. OSU hit .198 in the first five matches but came back to hit .248 in the final five matches. OSU begins the second half of the Big Ten Round Robin schedule with road trips to Northwestern and Wisconsin and later will travel to Iowa and Minnesota. The Buckeyes play three of the final four weekends at home in the second half of the Big Ten schedule.

Because of the five injuries for the Buckeyes, Ohio State has tried to find the right starting combination with the available players. In 19 matches, the Buckeyes have used 12 different starting combinations and prior to using the same lineup in the last six matches had different starting lineups in each of the previous nine matches. Each of the 14 student-athletes has now started at least one match this season.

With her 18 kills against Iowa, Suzie Stiling moved to ninth in the OSU career kills list last Saturday. She now has 1,228 career kills and passed Tricia Stragliotto (1993-95) with 1,211 and Rosie Snow (1996-99) with 1,227. Stiling needs 15 kills to move to eighth, which is currently held by Kristi Neuman (1983-86) with 1,242. Stiling’s 18 kills against Iowa equaled her season high set at Illinois.

Suzie Stiling collected eight total blocks last weekend in the matches against Minnesota (1-4) and Iowa (0-3). The eight blocks moved her to a tie for fourth on OSU’s career blocks list with Jenny Jackson (1992-95) at 389. Stiling’s 57 solos and 332 assists moved her past Leisa Wissler (1988-91) and Sherri Rinker (1984-87) who each had 385 blocks. Stiling ranks ninth in solos (57), fourth in assists (332) and is fourth in blocks per game at .96.

She has played in only six of OSU’s 10 conference matches, but Katie Virtue has moved to the top of the conference statistics for league matches with a 14.56 assist per game average. She also ranks 18th in the conference in digs per game at 2.76 after collecting a season-high 17 digs against Minnesota. Virtue, who missed a total of seven matches with a hand injury, ranks third for all matches in the Big Ten with a 13.44 per game average.

With 63 assists against Iowa, Katie Virtue now has 5,008 career assists for the Buckeyes. She ranks second in OSU career assists and needs 476 to pass the OSU all-time leader, Laura Davis (1991-94) who has 5,483. Virtue is OSU’s career-leader in assists per game at 13.87.

Stacey Gordon continues to lead the Big Ten in kills per game, overall at 5.95 and in conference matches at 5.88. In overall statistics, Gordon ranks third in digs at 3.47 and 12th in aces at .35 per game. She is 8th in aces at .33 per game in conference statistics and eighth in digs at 3.14.

Stacey Gordon continued her consecutive streak of double-figure kill matches with 27 against Minnesota and 17 vs. Iowa. She now has recorded double-figure kills in her last 35 matches. For her career, Gordon has double-figure kills in 48 of 50 matches and has 22 matches with 20 or more kills. Defensively, Gordon has 32 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 31 double-doubles (kills-digs) in her career.

Stacey Gordon, with a 6.09 kills per game average last week, was ranked fourth nationally in the national statistics release by the NCAA. She currently has a 5.95 per game average. The NCAA national leaders will be released later this week on the NCAA web site at’sportCode=WVB&rpt=wkly. National leaders from last week are listed below:

In the last six matches, Shelly Draeger is averaging 3.88 kills per game and is hitting .374. She has produced double-figure kills in five of the six matches including 20 at Purdue to equal her career high. In those five double figure kill matches, Draeger has hit .325 or better including .538 against Northwestern.

With a career-high nine kills against Minnesota, Anna Andersson returned to action after missing the last eight matches with a knee sprain. Her previous high was eight kills at Loyola-Chicago. Andersson also recorded a career-high three blocks (1-2) against Iowa.

With a 1.07 blocks per game average in conference matches, Stephanie Higgins ranks ninth in the latest Big Ten statistics. She has one solo and 44 assists in conference play and has a 97 blocks per game average for all matches with three solos and 68 assists. Higgins equaled her career-high of seven assist blocks for the third time last weekend against Iowa.

With 11 digs against Minnesota and 12 vs. Iowa, Rebecca Kastein has had three consecutive matches with double figure digs. She had 11 the previous week at Illinois. Kastein has played the libero position in the last six matches for Ohio State. Prior to those matches she had her first start at Michigan as a back row defensive specialist. She recorded a career-high 14 digs against Wisconsin.

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. She then returned to the libero position for two matches and has started the last six matches as a back row defensive specialist ranking second on the team in digs (149) with a 2.13 per game average. She had a career-high 18 digs at Illinois. As the starting setter, Whalen averaged 12.00 assists per game in her three starts and recorded a career-high 56 assists at Penn State.

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. She missed 12 matches before playing at Purdue but has been sidelined again with the injury. Two weeks later setter Katie Virtue (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.) suffered a fracture to her right hand during the road match at Illinois-Chicago. She missed eight matches before returning to play against Wisconsin. The day prior to the Miami (OH) match, setter Jackie Schardt (Fr., Colorado Springs, Colo.) suffered a concussion in practice. She missed three matches before returning to start against Michigan State. The next day outside hitter Katherine Grant (Fr., Nashville, Tenn.) suffered a dislocated elbow during the match with Miami (Ohio). She has missed 10 matches so far. The following Friday in practice, Anna Andersson (Fr., Angelholm, Sweden) suffered a knee sprain. She missed the first eight Big Ten matches before returning to action against Minnesota. Also currently not playing is Amanda Miller with a stress fracture on the non-weight bearing bone in her right leg. She has been held out the last four matches.

With Ohio State leading 2-1 in games, eighth-ranked Minnesota rallied for a 3-2 (24-30, 30-22, 28-30, 30-24, 15-6) victory. OSU’s Stacey Gordon recorded a match-high 27 kills with Suzie Stiling adding 13. UM’s Casse Busse had a team-high 21 kills with Trisha Bratford adding 18. Ahead 8-6 in game one, OSU held on for a 30-24 win. Minnesota broke a 12-all tie in game two for a 30-22 win. A Gordon kill and a Stiling-Katie Virtue block broke a 28-all tie for a 30-28 OSU win. OSU trailed 23-22 in game four before the Gophers won 30-24. Game five was all Minnesota taking a 9-2 lead before winning 15-6. Minnesota out hit Ohio State, .276-.225 while the Buckeyes had a 74-69 advantage in kills. The Golden Gophers had a 6-3 advantage in ace serves while OSU gave up 15 service errors to nine for Minnesota. The Buckeyes had a 52-50 edge in digs with UM’s Paula Gentil recording a match-high 20 for the Gophers. OSU’s Virtue had a team/season-high of 17. Minnesota controlled the net producing a 19-8 advantage in blocks. The Gophers had 10 solo blocks in the match. UM’s Bethany Brafford had a match-high eight blocks with three solos and five assists. OSU’s Virtue had a match-high 64 assists to 55 for Lindsey Vander Well.

With 18 kills from Suzie Stiling and Shelly Draeger, 17 from Stacey Gordon and 12 by Stephanie Higgins, Ohio State defeated Iowa 3-1 (31-29, 32-34, 30-28, 30-17). Iowa’s Laura Simpson had 16 kills and Echaka Agba added 13 for the Hawkeyes. OSU held off an Iowa game point in game one to win 31-29. Iowa had four game points before winning game two, 34-32. The Hawkeyes held off three Buckeye game points in game three before falling 30-28. Ohio State took a 5-0 lead in game four and controlled the game for a 30-17 win. For the match Ohio State hit .235 to .102 for Iowa. The Buckeyes had a 71-54 margin in kills. The Hawkeyes had a 5-3 advantage in ace serves while OSU gave up 13 service error to 11 for Iowa. Ohio State had a 67-52 margin in digs with Iowa’s Pam Kavadas recording a match-high 14. OSU’s Katie Virtue and Gordon had 13 digs each with Rebecca Kastein adding 12. OSU edged the Hawkeyes in blocks, 12-11. Iowa’s Abby Tjaden recorded a match-high eight blocks with one solo and seven assists. OSU’s Stephanie Higgins had a team-high seven assist blocks with Virtue adding six. Virtue posted 63 assists in the match to 46 for Jitka Stehnova for Iowa.

Jim Stone is in his 21st season at Ohio State. He has a 419-238 record with the Buckeyes and is 240-137 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 469-280.

Ohio State begins a two-week home stand next weekend with matches against Michigan at 7 p.m., Fri., Nov. 8 and 25th-ranked Michigan State at 7 p.m., Sat., Nov. 9. The Buckeyes then face Indiana at 7 p.m.,, Wed., Nov. 13 and 11th-ranked Penn State at 7 p.m., Fri., Nov. 15.