Big Ten Road Swing Continues for No. 17 Ohio State
Oct. 18, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 17 Ohio State women's volleyball team travels to Illinois Sunday afternoon for a 3 p.m. ET match in Huff Hall. The match is set to be broadcast live on BTN.com and will re-air Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET on BTN.
Senior Kaitlyn Leary led all attackers with 22 kills and chipped in 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season. Senior Julianne Mandolfo finished with 25 digs to lead Ohio State defensively. That mark was the most recorded by the Omaha, Neb., product in a Buckeye uniform. Freshman Taylor Sandbothe had 13 kills and led the Buckeyes with five blocks (1s, 4a).
BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
Under head coach Geoff Carlston, Ohio State is 49-58 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes enjoyed their best season under Carlston last year, finishing fourth overall with a 13-7 record.
Ohio State has faced or will face 12 teams ranked in the top 75: Penn State (2), Nebraska (6), Michigan State (9), Wisconsin (14), Minnesota (17), Illinois (25), Michigan (28), Florida State (37), Purdue (47), Northwestern (59), Xavier (60) and Western Kentucky (65).
IN THE POLLS
The squad ranks No. 17 in this week's Volleyball Magazine Top 20 poll.
Sherwin, a 6-0 setter, is among the top 25 nationally in assists, averaging 11.35 per set.
BIG TEN RANKINGS
Leading the way is the Ohio State back row, averaging 15.01 digs per set. That mark ranks second overall in the Big Ten. The senior duo of Davionna DiSalvatore and Julianne Mandolfo lead the squad this year, having 250 and 221 digs, respectively. Classmate Kaitlyn Leary has 168, while junior setter Taylor Sherwin has totaled 137 and freshman defensive specialist Valeria León has 133.
The Buckeye blockers are averaging 2.21 blocks per set with freshman Taylor Sandbothe leading the way. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native has a team-best 78 blocks on the season (22s, 56a) with a 1.10 average. Sandbothe's 1.37 blocks average (7s, 30a) in Big Ten play ranks seventh in the league.
Outside hitter Jocelynn Birks leads the Illini offense in kills with 241 followed by junior outside hitter Liz McMahon with 182. Sophomore setter Alexis Viliunas has a 9.60 assist per set average with 576 on the season. The defense is composed of blocking duo Maddie Meyers with 66 (4s, 62a) and McMahon with 43 (4s, 39a). Senior libero Jennifer Beltran has 235 digs with a 3.85 set average.
The Illini is slightly ahead in the series over the Buckeyes at 36-38. Ohio State gained ground in the series after capturing a pair of 3-2 wins over Illinois last season. Illinois will take on the Penn State Nittany Lions Friday before playing the Buckeyes Sunday.
On their way to a season-opening perfect start, the Buckeyes picked up key wins over nationally-ranked opponents. At the Seminole Classic in early September, Ohio State topped then-No. 16 Western Kentucky and then-No. 15 Florida State on its way to the tournament crown.
Seniors Kaitlyn Leary, Davionna DiSalvatore and Julianne Mandolfo have thrived in their new leadership roles and junior setter Taylor Sherwin has taken full control of the Buckeye offense this season. Classmate Erin Sekinger has put up career numbers offensively and sophomore Andrea Kacsits is becoming a leader both statistically and vocally.
The freshmen quartet of Kylie Randall, Valeria León, Taylor Sandbothe and Maggie Heim entered the season poised to contribute right away and haven't disappointed. Sandbothe secured a starting position at middle blocker, while Randall has provided offensive power at outside hitter. León's defensive skills have led to playing time in all matches. Heim, though battling an injury early, is still a major contributor in practice and has seen playing time as of late.
Overall, six Buckeyes have been placed on all-tournament teams during non-conference play. Sherwin, Leary and Davionna DiSalvatore were placed on the NIU Invitational all-tournament team, while Taylor Sandbothe joined Leary and Sherwin on the Seminole Invitational team. All-tournament honors went to Sherwin and Andrea Kacsits at the conclusion of the Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic. Leary, Sandbothe and Erin Sekinger closed out the non-conference schedule on the Blue and White Classic all-tournament squad.
CAREER MILESTONES REACHED
Carlston joined the Buckeyes in spring 2008 and came to Columbus with a 193-64 overall mark following five seasons with Ohio University and three at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn. Now in his sixth season with Ohio State and 13th overall, Carlston picked up his 300th in the team's 3-2 victory over Green Bay, Aug. 31. The Plymouth, Minn., native has a career record of 312-137 for a .695 winning percentage.
DiSalvatore entered her senior season ranked 15th at Ohio State with 961 career digs. She became the 15th player in program history to reach the 1000-dig mark in the team's 3-2 win over Northern Illinois Saturday evening en route to a 29-dig performance for the Buckeyes.
The Palm Harbor, Fla., product had a breakout season in 2012, guiding the Buckeye defense all year. She led the squad with 512 digs on the year for a 4.00 average. Her season total ranked second overall in Ohio State history. DiSalvatore enters the upcoming weekend ranked eighth with 1,211 career digs.
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.