Second Half of Big Ten Season Awaits Buckeyes this Weekend

Oct. 30, 2013



COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State women's volleyball team kicks off the second half of the Big Ten schedule this weekend, traveling to No. 14 Michigan State and No. 17 Michigan, Nov. 1-2. The Buckeyes and Spartans face off Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET in Jenison Field House. Ohio State closes out the weekend with a 7 p.m. ET match against the Wolverines in Cliff Keen Arena.

The Last Meeting
Michigan State3
Ohio State0
September 29, 2013
Columbus, Ohio
No. 13 Buckeyes Fall to No. 15 Michigan State, 3-0
The No.13 Ohio State women's volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season, falling 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-22) to No. 15 Michigan State Sunday afternoon in St. John Arena.

The Last Meeting
Ohio State3
September 27, 2013
Columbus, Ohio
No. 13 Ohio State Moves to 13-0 with 3-1 win over No. 10 Michigan
The No. 13 Ohio State women's volleyball team opened its Big Ten schedule with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-27, 25-20, 25-17) victory over rival and No. 10 Michigan Friday night in front of 4,500 fans in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes continued their unbeaten streak, standing at 13-0 on the year and 1-0 in the league.


Friday, Nov. 1 - 6:30 p.m. ET

Ohio State (14-8, 2-8) at No. 14 Michigan State (17-5, 6-3)
Saturday, Nov. 2 - 7 p.m. ET

Ohio State at No. 17 Michigan (14-7, 4-6 prior to Friday's match vs. No. 2 Penn State)

The Ohio State women's volleyball team concluded the first half of the Big Ten season traveling to No. 2 Penn State and hosting then-No.13 Nebraska Oct. 23 and 25. The Buckeyes fell to Penn State in a three-set decision (9-25, 11-25, 16-25) and followed with a four-set loss (22-25, 25-12, 25-17, 25- 19) to Nebraska in St. John Arena.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary led the squad in kills with 21 followed by freshman Taylor Sandbothe with 11 kills and two blocks (0s, 2a).  Sophomore Andrea Kacsits totaled 10 kills with seven blocks (2s, 5a) and freshman Valeria León and senior Julianne Mandolfo chipped in 18 and 14 digs, respectfully.

In its 31st season in the league, the Ohio State women's volleyball program has a 346-238 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 49-61 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. 37 in this week's NCAA RPI released Monday. Seven Big Ten opponents rank in the top 25, while 10 of the 12 league teams in the top 50.

Ohio State has faced 12 teams ranked in the top 60: Penn State (2), Wisconsin (9), Nebraska (10), Minnesota (11), Illinois (22), Michigan State (23), Michigan (25), Purdue (30), Florida State (34), Northwestern (46), Xavier (57) and Western Kentucky (60).

This weekend marks the end of a long road swing for the Buckeyes. Ohio State kicked off its road stretch at Northwestern (Oct. 16) and then traveled to Illinois (Oct. 20) and Penn State (Oct. 23) before returning St. John Arena for a quick stint at home against Nebraska (Oct. 25). Following this weekend's matches at Michigan State and Michigan, the Buckeyes will once again enjoy the comforts of St. John Arena as they're set to close out the regular season with five matches of the eight remaining at home.

Ohio State is receiving votes in both the AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll and Volleyball Magazine Top 20 poll this week. Seven Big Ten schools are currently ranked in the AVCA poll: Penn State (2), Minnesota (10), Nebraska (11), Michigan State (14), Wisconsin (15), Purdue (16) and Michigan (17). Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern are each receiving votes.

Senior Kaitlyn Leary reached a major milestone in her collegiate career Oct. 20 at Illinois. The Parma, Ohio, product became the 21st student-athlete in program history to reach 1,000 kills in a career. Leary entered the match with 995 kills and after totaling 20 kills for the Buckeyes against the Illini, she now ranks 21st in school history with 1,036 kills to date. 

Leary has had a breakout season for the Scarlet and Gray this season, leading the Big Ten with 398 kills and a 4.80 average. She has totaled 12 matches with 20 or more kills and has reached double-digit kills 20 of 22 matches this season.

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 sixth in the NCAA with a 4.80 kills average, having 398 over 83 sets played. Leary also ranks 12th in points per set with 5.14.

Sherwin, a 6-0 setter, is among the top 35 nationally in assists, averaging 10.93 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 4.80 average and is second overall in points with a 5.14 average. Junior Taylor Sherwin in second with a 10.93 assists average.

In Big Ten play, Leary is third in both kills (4.18) and points (4.49). Sherwin is seventh in assists (9.43), while freshman Taylor Sandbothe and senior Julianne Mandolfo rank 10th in blocks (1.11) and digs (3.13), respectively.

The No. 14 Michigan State Spartans are 17-5 overall and hold a 6-3 mark at the conclusion of the first half of B1G play. The Spartans dropped a pair of matches this past week, falling to No. 17 Michigan and Indiana at home. Michigan State took on the Wolverines Wednesday, but couldn't keep the home court advantage going as the squad fell to Michigan in four sets (25-20, 22-25, 24-26, 30-32). The Spartans couldn't outlast the Hoosiers in Jenison Field House and lost 3-2 (17-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 12-15). The Spartans comprise of two players who hold top 25 national rankings in multiple categories.

Senior Lauren Wicinski is ninth in points per set (5.25) and 19th in kills (4.45) and aces (.45). Senior Alexis Mathews is fifth in the nation in blocks with a 1.53 average, having 119 (9s, 110a) total. She is also 14th in hitting percentage at .427.

The Buckeyes lead the series over the Spartans, 44-28. The two squads met earlier in the season with the Spartans coming away with a 3-0 (27-25, 25-23, 25-22) win, to give the Buckeyes their first loss of the season.

The No. 17 Michigan Wolverines hold a 14-7 overall mark on the season and are 4-6 after the first half of Big Ten Conference play. The Wolverines are coming off a split weekend, besting in-state rival Michigan State in a 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 26-24, 32-30) win Wednesday, before falling to then-No. 21 Purdue 3-1 (25-20, 13-25, 25-22, 25-20), Saturday.

Senior Lexi Erwin leads the squad with 256 kills, followed by classmate Jennifer Cross with 235. Junior setter Lexi Dannemiller has 847 assists to round out the top offensive players. On defense, sophomore defensive specialist Tiffany Morales leads the team in digs with 332 with a 3.99 set average. Blocking duo sophomore Krystalyn Goode and Cross have 85 (11s, 74a) and 80 (17s, 63a) blocks, respectfully.

The Buckeyes lead the series over the Wolverines 48-20. The Buckeyes hosted the Wolverines earlier in the season with Ohio State topping Michigan, 3-1 (25,22- 25-27, 25-20, 25-17), to kick off the B1G season. The Wolverines will first take on Penn State Friday, Nov. 1, before hosting the Buckeyes. 

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 312-140 for a .693 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 1,229 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.

Ohio State returns to St. John Arena for a pair of Big Ten matches. The Buckeyes will face Indiana Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. ET. The squad will conclude the weekend with another 7 p.m. ET match, hosting nationally-ranked Purdue. Admission for any Ohio State match is $5 for adults and $3 for students. Ohio State students are free with a valid Buck-ID.