Buckeyes Face Third-Seed Illinois Friday in NCAA Regional Semifinal

Dec. 7, 2011

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State women's volleyball team (21-14 overall) faces Big Ten rival and third-seed Illinois (30-4) Friday in a regional semifinal match of the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championships. The two squads are set to face off in a 5 p.m. EST match at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., on the campus of the University of Florida.

Host Florida (26-5) and Michigan (22-12) follow with the second regional semifinal at 7 p.m. EST Friday. The winner of both matches will compete Saturday at 7 p.m. EST and one will advance to the NCAA Championship Semifinals in San Antonio, Texas, Dec. 16-18. 

Friday's match will be broadcast on ESPN3 and the link can be located here. Providing the play-by-play will be Sam Gore and color analyst will be Maria Taylor.
                Saturday's match will also be broadcast on ESPN3. Live stats will be available throughout the weekend can be found here. 

Ohio State's selection this season marks the third-consecutive year the Buckeyes have reached the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State holds a 28-17 record in 17 appearances. The Buckeyes reached the regional semifinals with a 3-1 win over Middle Tennessee in the opening round and a 3-2 upset over 14th-seed Tennessee in the second round. Both matches were held at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
                Last season, the Buckeyes defeated Lipscomb in the first round and followed with an upset over 12th-seeded Dayton, 3-2, in Dayton. The team eventually lost to Stanford in the regional semifinal, 3-1.
                This year's appearance in the regional semifinals marks the 13th time Ohio State has reached the regional semifinals and the second-consecutive season the Buckeyes have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The Buckeyes are 4-10 in regional play and have advanced to the national semifinals twice in team history (1991, 1994). 

Ohio State NCAA Appearances
1989 - Regional Semifinals
1990 - First Round
1991 - National Semifinals
1992 - First Round
1993 - Regional Semifinals
1994 - National Semifinals
1995 - Regional Semifinals
1996 - Regional Semifinals
1997 - Regional Semifinals
1998 - Second Round
2001 - Regional Semifinals
2002 - Regional Semifinals
2004 - Regional Finals
2005 - Second Round
2006 - Regional Semifinals
2009 - Second Round
2010 - Regional Semifinals 

Eight teams from the Big Ten were selected to this year's national tournament and of the eight, six teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen to lead all conferences. Joining Ohio State in the regional semis is No. 3 Illinois, No. 5 Purdue, No. 8 Penn State, No. 13 Minnesota and Michigan. The Pac-12 and Big 12 have three teams remaining in the tournament, while the SEC has two.

Coached by Geoff Carlston, the Buckeyes are 21-14 overall and finished seventh in the Big Ten with a 9-11 record.
                Leading the Buckeyes in points per set is junior Mari Hole at 4.56, while junior Emily Danks ranks second at 4.18 with senior Kelli Barhorst third at 2.67. Hole has a team-best 4.05 kills per set average with Danks second at 3.31 and Kaitlyn Leary third at 2.37. Barhorst is hitting .302 to lead the squad, while Danks ranks second in attack percentage at .269 and junior Mariah Booth third at .254. At setter, freshman Taylor Sherwin is averaging 9.69 assists per set with junior Amanda Peterson at 9.27. Leading the squad in aces per set is Danks at .47 with 61. Senior Sarah Mignin ranks second at .22 with 28 aces and Hole is third at .17 with 22. Defensively, Mignin has a team-high 4.19 digs per set average. Hole ranks second at 2.78 with Davionna DiSalvatore third at 2.04. At the net, Booth leads the team with a 1.07 blocks per set average with 13 solos and 108 assists. Barhorst ranks second at .95 with 18 solos and 105 assists with Danks third at .74 with 11 solos and 86 assists.
                 Ohio State is averaging 17.79 points, 14.20 kills and 13.30 assists per set while hitting .237. OSU is averaging 1.11 aces, 15.36 digs and 2.42 blocks per set. Buckeye opponents average 15.68 points, 12.60 kills and 11.70 assists per set while hitting .198. They average .95 aces, 14.27 digs and 2.12 blocks per set. 

The third-seeded Illini swept Central Michigan and Marquette in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Led by head coach Kevin Hamby, Illinois is making its 13th Sweet 16 appearance, including the past three seasons. Illinois closed out the regular season ranked No. 1 in RPI standings and finished tied for second in the Big Ten standings with a 16-4 conference record.
                Seniors Michelle Bartsch and Colleen Ward garnered All-Big Ten honors after starting every match this season. Bartsch leads the team in kills per set (3.83), while Ward follows closely (3.63). The two have also tallied 3.28 digs per set and 2.75 digs per set, respectively. Bartsch leads the team with 27 service aces. Setter Annie Luhrsen has dished out 1,396 assists, averaging 11.08 per set. Defensively, Jennifer Beltran sets the pace with 4.05 digs per set, while Anna Dorn and Erin Johnson have earned 1.29 and 1.10 blocks per set, respectively.  

The Illini lead the all-time series with Ohio State, 37-34, after defeating the Buckeyes in both regular-season matchups in 2011. Illinois took the first meeting of the season, 3-0, in Columbus and the second, 3-1, at home in Champaign, Ill., and have won the last eight meetings. Ohio State is 5-3 in neutral site events against Illinois. 

Head coach Mark Rosen led the Wolverines to a 20-12 regular season finish, including three wins against Top 25 opponents. After downing Baylor in four sets in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines upset sixth-seeded Stanford, 3-1, to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five years. Michigan closed the season tied for eighth in Big Ten standings with an 8-12 conference ledger.
                All-Big Ten honorable mention Alex Hunt leads the Wolverines with 3.30 kills per set and 50 service aces. Freshmen All-Big Ten selection Lexi Dannemiller has tallied an 11.65 assists per set mark, while Sloane Donhoff has averaged 4.57 digs per set. Jennifer Cross sets the pace for UM in blocks per set (1.00). 

Ohio State holds an advantage in the all-time series against Michigan, 49-17. The Buckeyes downed the Wolverines in four sets on the road in Ann Arbor  to close the regular season and end a two-match losing skid to UM. The two teams hold a 3-3 record in neutral site matches. 

Senior First Team All-SEC performers Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy lead the Gators offensively. Jaeckel has racked up 3.41 kills per set and 0.44 service aces per set this season, while Murphy has tallied 5.92 assists per set and 2.43 kills per set with a .328 percentage. Taylor Unroe leads the team with 3.70 digs per set and Betsy Smith and Chloe Mann have compiled 1.00 and 0.98 blocks per set, respectively. 

The Buckeyes and Gators met three times from 1996-98, including twice in 1998, with Florida edging a 2-1 advantage. The two teams have not faced each other since UF's four-set triumph in the second round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Earlier in 1998, Ohio State claimed a five-set victory against Florida at the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic.