No. 23 Ohio State Opens 2013 Season at NIU Invitational

Aug 28, 2013



Weekend Notes Get Acrobat Reader

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 43rd season of Ohio State women's volleyball kicks off Friday when the No. 23 Buckeyes travel to DeKalb, Ill., for the NIU Invitational, Aug. 30-31. The squad will face Liberty, Green Bay and host Northern Illinois during the two-day tournament.

Teams: No. 23 Ohio State, Liberty, Green Bay, Northern Illinois

Friday, August 30

Ohio State vs. Liberty - 6 p.m.
Northern Illinois vs. Green Bay - 8 p.m.
Saturday, August 31

Green Bay vs. Ohio State - 1 p.m.
Northern Illinois vs. Liberty - 3 p.m.
Liberty vs. Green Bay - 6 p.m.
Northern Illinois vs. Ohio State - 8 p.m.

Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Geoff Carlston, the 2013 edition of the Ohio State Buckeyes features three seniors in Kaitlyn Leary, Davionna DiSalvatore and Julianne Mandolfo. Leary returns for her final season as a 2012 Big Ten honorable mention honoree, while DiSalvatore comes back as the team's defensive leader at libero. All three seniors were a part of the squad's primary rotation last season

Joining the trio are four juniors in Anna Faul, Erin Sekinger, Taylor Sherwin and Alyssa Winner. Faul became one of the team's top blockers throughout the heart of last season and finished with a team-best .98 blocking average. Sherwin has a wealth of experience at setter and Sekinger will be competing for a starting spot at outside hitter. Winner has been consistent in both back row defense and serving for the Buckeyes.

Sophomores Andrea Kacsits and Katie Mitchell return following successful freshmen campaigns. Kacsits started 24 matches last season at middle blocker, while Mitchell saw playing time in 17 matches at outside hitter.

The freshmen quartet of Kylie Randall, Valeria León, Taylor Sandbothe and Maggie Heim are poised to contribute right away and will compete for starting positions throughout the season.

The Buckeyes enter the season as the 23rd-ranked squad in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 preseason poll. The squad is one of seven Big Ten schools ranked and the conference is the most represented league in the poll.

Ohio State will face eight teams this season ranked in the poll - Penn State (2), Minnesota (6), Michigan (7), Nebraska (10), Michigan State (14), Purdue (16), Florida State (18) and Western Kentucky (21).

The squad also earned votes in the preseason poll released by Volleyball Magazine.

The 2013 freshmen class entered the preseason as one of the top recruiting classes in the nation according to's annual rankings. The quartet of Taylor Sandbothe, Kylie Randall, Maggie Heim and Valeria León ranked No. 11 in the country.

Sandbothe, a 6-2 middle blocker from Lee's Summit, Mo., was named to the Under Armour All-American second team and ranked No. 25 on's Senior Aces list. Randall hails from Tomball, Texas, and the 6-2 outside hitter was listed No. 27 on Senior Aces. The pair was also honored on's Fab 50 list earlier this year.

Heim is a 6-0 setter from Omaha and a 2012 Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year finalist with natural leadership. León is a 5-6 defensive specialist from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and has been a member of a handful of Puerto Rican national teams, including the 2013 Puerto Rico Youth National Team.

2012 RECAP
Ohio State finished 2012 with a 23-11 overall record and finished fourth in the Big Ten at 13-7 for its best finish since 2009. The squad notched its fourth-consecutive season with 20 or more wins under head coach Geoff Carlston and the 27th season in the program's 42-year history.

The Buckeyes concluded the year ranked No. 22 in the final AVCA Coaches' poll after earning its fourth-straight selection to the NCAA Tournament. The team advanced to the second round of the national tournament before falling at Kentucky in four sets.

Then-senior Mari Hole had an outstanding season for Ohio State and was awarded AVCA All-America third team honors for her efforts. She was also named to the AVCA All-Mideast Region team and was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection.

The squad said good bye to four seniors at the end of the season. Hole concluded her two seasons as one of the program's top hitters, finishing third in kills per set. Emily Danks, a 2012 AVCA All-Mideast Region and All-Big Ten honorable mention selection, finished her career as Ohio State's leader in career aces with 230 overall. Setter Amanda Peterson and middle blocker Mariah Booth finished their careers among the programs top 20 in assists and blocks, respectively.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary spent a portion of her summer with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Senior A2 program in Dallas, June 25-July 3. Alongside 47 other student-athletes from around the country, Leary trained for six days before competing against other A2 program teams and the top four Premier Volleyball League (PVL) teams in a tournament.

The U.S. Senior A2 contingent was divided into four equal teams before entering pool play. After being chosen to rep Team White, Leary found herself in position to compete with some familiar faces; most notably former Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. A total of five Big Ten players were selected to play for Hebert.

Putting Big Ten rivalries aside, Leary and her teammates from Team White advanced to the championship match of the WNTA2 Tournament to take on Team Gold. Played at the Dallas Convention Center, Team White took down Team Gold 24-26, 25-12, 25-23, 25-21. In the match, Leary contributed seven points on seven kills.

The Liberty Flames finished the 2013 season at 25-8 overall and 12-2 in the Big South Conference. The Flames captured the Big South regular season title for the second-straight year and received an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Championship. Liberty fell to Minnesota in the first round.

The Flames are returning four seniors in middle blocker Kendle Rollins, setter Jade Craycraft, outside hitter Lillie Happel and libero Becca Haraf. Happel finished third on the team with 253 kills last season, while Rollins had 123 blocks (12s, 111a). Craycraft led the team with a 9.60 assists average.

This will be the first match between the Buckeyes and the Flames since 2000.

The Green Bay Phoenix concluded the year at 15-14 overall with a 6-8 record in the Horizon League. The squad came in fifth overall in the conference.

The Phoenix, under first-year head coach Michaela Franklin, returns five seniors from 2012. Senior Monica Anderson finished second on the squad last year with 297 kills and a 2.72 average, while senior setter Leah Poel finished with a team-best 10.18 assists per set.

Saturday's meeting will be the first between the Buckeyes and the Phoenix.

The Northern Illinois Huskies reached the MAC Tournament title match before falling to Bowling Green in five sets and concluded the 2012 season with an overall mark of 21-15 and 10-6 in conference play.

The Huskies return eight from last year's squad. Leading the way is sophomore setter Alexis Gonzalez, junior outside hitter MacKenzie Roddy and senior middle blocker Sarah Angelos. Gonzalez led the team with a 10.27 assists average, while Roddy came in second with 446 kills on the season. Angelos was an All-MAC first team selection after 341 kills and 100 blocks on the year.

The Buckeyes hold an 8-2 record over the Huskies and came away with a 3-0 (30-17, 30-23, 30-16) win in the last meeting at the 2006 Buckeye Invitational.

The Buckeyes host the Poland National Team in an exhibition match at 7 p.m. ET Sept. 4 in St. John Arena. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. Ohio State students are free with a valid Buck-ID.