Aug. 7, 2000

COLUMBUS, Ohio – %^$The Ohio State women’s volleyball team, ranked 19th in the Volleyball Magazine preseason poll, opens preseason practice this week beginning the 30th season for the Buckeyes. Team members report Wed., Aug. 9 with practice beginning Fri., Aug. 11.%^$

%^$The Buckeyes have four starters returning from the 17-12 squad last year. Middle blocker Dana Stearns (Sr., Bexley, OH/Bexley) tops the returnees. Joining Stearns are setter Katie Virtue (So., St. Charles, Ill./St. Francis), middle blocker Suzie Stiling (So., Glenview, Ill/. South) and outside hitter Shelly Draeger (So., Milwaukee, Wis./Luthern). Stearns was the top percentage hitter on the squad last season and ranked second in blocking with 71. Virtue was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was named to the Asics/Volleyball Magazine Freshman All-America Team. Stiling was named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team and was the top blocker on the squad with 94 blocks. Draeger stared all 29 matches last season recording 275 kills and 27 ace serves.%^$

%^$Five other letterwinners join the starters this fall. These include middle blockers Erin Baker (Jr., Elmhurst, Ill./York) and Sue Calligaris (So., Palermo, Italy/Liceo Linguistico), outside hitters Anne Botica (Jr., Windsor, Ont./St. Joseph), Angelee Abbring (Sr., Wheatfield, Ind./Kankakee Valley) and defensive specialist Nikki Cisco (Jr., Dublin, OH/Coffman). Baker saw action in one match last season. Calligaris started 15 matches last season hitting .295 on 129 kills. Botica played in 27 matches last season scoring a career-high 21 kills against Minnesota. Cisco saw action in 28 matches collecting double-figure digs twice last season in her defensive role.%^$

%^$Three freshmen will begin their careers for the scarlet and gray. These include outside hitters Marta Szczygielska (Fr., Tongeren, Belgium/OBO – Tongeren) and Erin Treadway (Fr., Dayton, OH/Chaminade-Julienne) and setter Heather Whalen (Fr., Kalamazoo, Mich./Parchment). Szczygielska helped her club team win the 2000 Belgium Cup. Treadway was the Ohio Division II Player of the Year in 1999 and was the most valuable player of her team the last three years. Whalen won the Michigan Class C State Championship last season and was named all-state for her efforts.%^$

%^$OSU opens the season Fri., Sept. 1 against Colgate at the Temple Volleyball Classic. The Buckeyes first home appearance will be Fri., Sept. 9 against Toledo in the Buckeye Invitational in St. John Arena. Big Ten Conference play begins for OSU as they host Michigan State Fri., Sept. 22.