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 and will re-air Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET on BTN. 

The Last Meeting
Ohio State3
November 10, 2012
Columbus, Ohio
No. 15 Buckeyes Edge Illinois, 3-2
The No. 15 Ohio State women's volleyball team earned its fourth-straight 20-win season with a 3-2 (25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 16-25, 17-15) win over Illinois Saturday night in St. John Arena.


Sunday, Oct. 18 - 3 p.m. ET

No. 17 Ohio State (14-45, 2-5 Big Ten) at Illinois (7-9, 3-3 Big Ten prior to Friday's match vs. Penn State)

Sunday's match at Illinois is the second of a three-match road swing for the Buckeyes. Ohio State competed at Northwestern Wednesday and following its tilt with the Illini, the Buckeyes will make a quick turnaround for a road match at Penn State, Oct. 23. After a home match against Nebraska, Oct. 25, the Buckeyes will once again return to the road for a pair of contests at Michigan State and Michigan, Nov. 1-2.

The Ohio State women's volleyball team dropped a Big Ten road match Wednesday night, falling 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23) at Northwestern in Welsh-Ryan Arena.

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).

Sophomore Katie Mitchell totaled a career-best eight kills in the match, while senior Davionna DiSalvatore and freshman Valeria León had 12 and 10 digs, respectively.

In its 31st season in the league, the Ohio State women's volleyball program has a 346-235 overall record in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have captured three Big Ten titles (1989, 1991, 1994) and have produced six Big Ten player of the year awards. Overall, Ohio State has garnered 69 All-Big Ten selections.

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.

The Buckeyes stand at No. 24 in this week's NCAA RPI released Monday. Ohio State joins six other Big Ten opponents in the top 25 with 10 of the 12 league teams in the top 60.

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).

Ohio State stands at No. 17 in this week's AVCA poll Division I Coaches Poll and is one of eight Big Ten schools ranked: Penn State (4), Michigan State (5), Nebraska (8), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (15), Michigan (16), Ohio State (17) and Purdue (25).

The squad ranks No. 17 in this week's Volleyball Magazine Top 20 poll.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary and junior Taylor Sherwin are among the nation's best in their respective positions. Prior to Wednesday's match at Northwestern, Leary, a 6-1 outside hitter, ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 4.93 kills average, having 335 over 68 sets played. Leary also ranks eighth in points per set with 5.27.

Sherwin, a 6-0 setter, is among the top 25 nationally in assists, averaging 11.35 per set.  

Four Buckeyes are among the Big Ten's best statistically entering the weekend. Senior Kaitlyn Leary leads all student-athletes in kills with a 4.96 average and is second overall in points with a 5.30 average. Junior Taylor Sherwin in second with an 11.38 assists average, while freshman Taylor Sandbothe is ninth in blocks (1.10) and senior Davionna DiSalvatore is 10th in digs (3.57).

Ohio State's defensive corps has limited its opponents to a .158 attack percentage this season. Overall, the Buckeyes have held their opponents to under .200 in 13 matches and have kept four teams to hitting percentages below .100 on the year.

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.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary is quickly approaching the 1,000-kill mark. To date, the Parma, Ohio, product has 995 in her career, playing in 101 matches for the Buckeyes. Leary has had a breakout season for the Scarlet and Gray, leading the Big Ten with 357 kills and a 4.96 average. She has totaled 11 matches with 20 or more kills and has reached double-digit kills 18 of 19 matches this season.

A total of 20 student-athletes have reached the 1000-kill milestone in program history. Ohio State had two Buckeyes reach the plateau last season in Emily Danks and Mari Hole.

The Illinois Fighting Illini are coached by Kevin Hambly in his fifth year with the program. The Illini are 7-9 on the season overall and 3-3 in B1G play. Illinois concluded last weekend with a 1-1 record, falling at Purdue in a 3-1 loss Friday before capping the weekend Saturday with a 3-0 win over Indiana.

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.

Ohio State entered conference play with a 12-0 mark prior to the Big Ten opener Sept. 27. The start to the season was the best for the program since 2004.

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.

The 2013 edition of the Ohio State women's volleyball team entered the season as a young squad after losing four senior starters last year, including AVCA All-Americans Mari Hole and Emily Danks. However, this youthful group has proven their talent on the court outweighs their overall collegiate experience.

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.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary and junior Taylor Sherwin finished the non-conference schedule with a pair of MVP honors each. Leary was named the Seminole Invitational (Sept. 6-7) and the Blue and White Classic (Sept. 20-21) Most Valuable Player, while Sherwin was awarded the honor at both the NIU Invitational (Aug. 30-31) and the Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic (Sept. 13-14).

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.

While the Buckeyes was busy capturing the NIU Invitational title (Aug. 30-31), two members of the program reached milestones in their careers. Head coach Geoff Carlston earned his 300th career win, while senior libero Davionna DiSalvatore recorded her 1000th dig.

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.

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 Buckeyes travel to nationally-ranked Penn State, Oct. 23, for a 7 p.m. ET match on ESPN2. Ohio State then returns to St. John Arena, hosting nationally-ranked Nebraska in a 7 p.m. ET Big Ten tilt.