No. 24 Buckeyes to Face No. 2 Penn State, No. 13 Nebraska
Oct. 22, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 24 Ohio State women's volleyball team closes out the first half of the Big Ten season this week with a pair of contests against nationally-ranked opponents. The Buckeyes will take on No. 2 Penn State Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET in State College, Pa. The team will close out the week with a 7 p.m. ET match against No. 13 Nebraska Friday in St. John Arena.
Friday night's tilt will be streamed live on BTN.com. Please note, fans' Buckeye Vision subscription information also can be used to log on to the Big Ten Digital Network (BTDN) for Ohio State content only.
Admission for Friday's match is $5 for adults and $3 for students. Ohio State students are free with a valid Buck-ID. Tickets are available at OhioStateBuckeyes.com and group tickets (10 or more) are also available starting at $2 when purchased in advance. For more information, contact Ohio State Ticket Sales at 1-800-GOBUCKS or at email@example.com.
Entering the match, senior Kaitlyn Leary needed five kills for 1,000 in her career. She reached the milestone in the first set and finished the contest with a match-high 20 kills. The Parma, Ohio, product became the 21st Buckeye in program history to notch 1,000 kills and has 1,015 in her career.
Leary also added 16 digs in the match for her 10th double-double of the year, adding a career-best three service aces. Senior Julianne Mandolfo finished with 15 digs, while freshman Valeria León and senior Davionna DiSalvatore had 11 and 10 digs, respectively. Sophomore Andrea Kacsits chipped in nine kills for the Buckeyes.
BUCKEYES IN THE BIG TEN
Under head coach Geoff Carlston, Ohio State is 49-59 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), Wisconsin (11), Minnesota (12), Nebraska (13), Michigan State (14), Illinois (25), Michigan (27), Florida State (32), Purdue (35), Northwestern (42), Xavier (56) and Western Kentucky (69).
IN THE POLLS
1000 KILLS CLUB
Leary has had a breakout season for the Scarlet and Gray this season, leading the Big Ten with 377 kills and a 4.96 average. She has totaled 12 matches with 20 or more kills and has reached double-digit kills 19 of 20 matches this season.
Sherwin, a 6-0 setter, is among the top 25 nationally in assists, averaging 11.34 per set.
BIG TEN RANKINGS
Leading the way is the Ohio State back row, averaging 15.03 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 260 and 236 digs, respectively. Classmate Kaitlyn Leary has 184, while junior setter Taylor Sherwin has totaled 132 and freshman defensive specialist Valeria León has 144.
The Buckeye blockers are averaging 2.18 blocks per set with freshman Taylor Sandbothe leading the way. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native has a team-best 81 blocks on the season (22s, 59a) with a 1.08 average. Sandbothe's 1.29 blocks average (7s, 33a) in Big Ten play ranks sixth in the league.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
At the center of the Nittany Lion offense are seniors Ariel Scott and Deja McClendon. Scott has 169 kills and on defense she comes in second with 45 blocks (2s, 43a). McClendon has 160 kills and 172 digs on defense. Micha Hancock ranks second nationally in aces per set with 41 and a .72 average and leads the team in assists with 701. Senior Katie Slay ranks third nationally in blocks with 102 (15s, 87a), which is also a team-best. Slay also ranks 10th nationally in hitting percentage with a .444.
Penn State leads the series over Ohio State 40-14. The Nittany Lions are on a 12-match winning streak and Ohio State's last win came in a three-set sweep in 2006 (30-19, 30-26, 30-21).
The Huskers are led both offensively and defensively by senior Kelsey Robinson, who ranks 18th nationally with a 4.49 kills per set average. On defense, Robinson has 228 digs for a 3.62 set average. Freshman Kadie Rolfzen has 173 kills followed by her twin sister Amber Rolfzen with 130. Freshman Justine Wong-Orantes has 216 digs and sophomore Cecilia Hall has 70 blocks (4s, 66a).
Nebraska is 9-4 when facing the Buckeyes. In their final meeting of 2012, the Buckeyes topped the Huskers, 3-1 (25-22, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23), in Lincoln. With the win, Ohio State handed Nebraska its first Big Ten loss at home in the NU Coliseum since joining the conference and it was Ohio State's first win over the Huskers since 1991. Nebraska will take on Iowa Wednesday before Ohio State.
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 312-138 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 1,221 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.