Freshmen Class Look to Make Impact

Aug 29, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The freshmen class of Ohio State women's volleyball team is ready to make an immediate impact on the program. Freshmen Kylie Randall, Taylor Sandbothe, Maggie Heim and Valeria León were ranked No. 11 by June 3, and are ready to stake their claim as one of the strongest freshmen units in the Big Ten.

The four freshmen bring an abundance of achievements from the club and high school circuit to the Buckeye squad. Randall and Sandbothe each earned a spot on the 2012 AVCA Under Armour All-America second team and were ranked No. 25 and 27, respectively on's Senior Aces list. Omaha, Neb., product Heim was named a 2012 Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year finalist, while León, a defensive specialist from Ponce, Puerto Rico, has been a member of a handful of Puerto Rican national teams, including the 2013 Puerto Rico Youth National Team.

"It was a big learning experience for me," León said. "It was a high level of competition playing against teams from the Dominican Republic and Brazil. It definitely helped me get better for Ohio State."

The camaraderie among Scarlet and Gray and the leadership from sophomores Andrea Kacsits and Katie Mitchell was critical in helping the freshmen transition to the fast-paced nature of the collegiate game.

"The team chemistry was one of the things that drew me to this team," setter Heim said. "Even though we're freshmen, we're just another player and have the same expectations and determination to perform as everyone else on the team."

The quartet of talent also had no trouble clicking with each other on and off the court. "The four of us are really close," middle blocker Sandbothe said. "We live together and spent all summer together. We've been helping each other adapt to the way things work here and getting into our own groove."

León comments that her individual adjustment to life in Columbus, Ohio, has been easier because of the strong team dynamic.

"The language, people, food, even volleyball is different, but my teammates and coaches have been there for me," León said.

The tradition of Ohio State is a common thread among the four freshmen, especially for outside hitter Randall, whose grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather attended Ohio State. "It's a great tradition in my family," the Tomball, Texas, native said. "Even though it was far away from where I grew up, I always felt like a Buckeye and am so excited to play for Ohio State."

The Buckeyes will open up their regular season at the NIU invitational in DeKalb, Ill., Aug. 30-31. The tournament will also feature Liberty, Green Bay and host Northern Illinois. Ohio State returns to St. John Arena Sept. 4 with an exhibition against the Poland National Team.