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CLEVELAND -- The Ohio volleyball team has been selected to win the Mid-American Conference East Division, regular season and tournament titles in the league's 2018 preseason coaches' poll, the conference office announced today.
The Bobcats earned nine of the MAC East Division's 12 first-place votes and finished with 68 points. Ohio earned eight of 11 votes to win the regular season crown and five of 11 votes to win the tournament title. The poll was voted on the conference's 12 head coaches, with one head coach choosing not to select a regular season or tournament champion.
"We are humbled that the coaches in the MAC recognize the talent and potential we have this season," said fifth-year head coach Deane Webb. "We agree that we have high potential, and we will work every day to achieve that potential. If we reach that, we'll be satisfied.
Bowling Green received the other three first-place votes in the East Division and collected 60 points. The Falcons earned the other three votes to win the regular season and one to earn the tournament championship. Rounding out the East Division poll were Buffalo (45 points), Miami (42), Kent State (22) and Akron (12). Miami received two votes to repeat as tournament champions.
Balll State was selected as the team to beat in the West Division, notching 10 first-place votes and 70 points. The Cardinals earned one vote to win the tournament title. Western Michigan tallied two first-place votes and 59 points. The Broncos also received two votes to win the tournament championship. Central Michigan (43 points), Eastern Michigan (30), Northern Illinois (29) and Toledo (21) rounded out the West Division poll.
Junior outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas), sophomore setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) and middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) represented Ohio on the 2018 Preseason East Division All-MAC Team.
Stephens, who was named a team co-captain on Tuesday, played in all 32 matches and appeared in all 122 sets in her 2017 sophomore season, earning All-MAC First Team honors. She led both the team and the MAC and ranked 66th in the country with a career-high 443 kills (3.63 per set), which ranks as the eighth-most in a single season in program history in the rally scoring era. She posted double-digit kills 25 times -- including 20 or more three times. Stephens led both the team and the MAC and ranked fifth in the nation with a career-high 60 service aces, which ranks as the fourth-most overall in program history and most in program history in the rally scoring era. She posted three or more service aces on 10 occasions. Her 0.49 service aces per set led both the team and the MAC and ranked sixth in the country and rank as the most in program history in the rally scoring era. Stephens led the team and ranked second in the MAC with a career-high 527.5 points (4.32 per set), which ranks as the ninth-most in program history in the rally scoring era. She posted 20 or more points 10 times. Stephens also ranked second on the team with a career-high 320 digs (2.62 per set) and posted double-digit digs 15 times -- including 20 or more two times.
Giacomazzi played in 32 matches and appeared in 121 sets in her 2017 freshman campaign, earning MAC Setter of the Year and All-MAC First Team honors as well as a spot on the MAC All-Freshman Team. She ranked second in the MAC and 30th in the country with a team-high 1,278 assists (10.56 per set; fourth in the MAC) -- the most assists in a single season by an Ohio freshman in the rally scoring era in program history, the ninth-most assists in a single season by any player in the rally scoring era and the 10th-most in a single season by any player in the overall history of the program. She tallied 40 or more assists 17 times, 50 or more assists eight times and 60 or more assists once. Giacomazzi ranked third on the team with 306 digs (2.53 per set) and posted double-digit digs 14 times. She achieved 14 double-doubles. Giacomazzi also ranked third on the team with 52 total blocks (two solo, 50 assisted; 0.43 per set).
Jimerson played in all 32 matches and appeared in all 122 sets in her 2017 rookie season, earning MAC Freshman of the Year and All-MAC First Team honors as well as a spot on the MAC All-Freshman Team. She led the team and ranked fourth in the MAC and 59th in the country with a .358 attack percentage (409 kills-112 errors-829 total attacks), which tied for the third-best hitting percentage in a single season in the rally scoring era and tied for fifth-best in a single season in the overall history of the program. Jimerson ranked second on the team and fourth in the MAC with 409 kills (3.35 per set) and posted double-digit kills 21 times -- including 20 or more three times. She led the team with 105 total blocks (25 solo, 80 assisted; 0.86 per set), with her 25 solo blocks tied for the seventh-most in a single season in the rally scoring era of the program. She posted five or more total blocks 10 times. Jimerson also ranked second on the team with 479 points (3.93 per set) and posted 20 or more points six times.
The Bobcats welcome back 13 of the 2017 team's 15 student-athletes back and have an infusion of five newcomers.
In addition to Stephens, Giacomazzi and Jimerson, redshirt freshman middle blocker Dahlias Bouyer (Brownstown, Mich.), redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), redshirt junior middle blocker Simone Miller (Kalamazoo, Mich.), redshirt senior right side hitter Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan), junior libero/defensive specialist Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.), junior middle blocker Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.), senior right side hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio), sophomore libero/defensive specialist Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.), redshirt junior outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) and junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.) are all back for Ohio in 2018. Bouyer, Kosiorek, Miller and Nelson all missed either all or the majority of the 2017 season due to injuries. Kosiorek was an All-MAC Honorable Mention selection in 2016.
New to the program in 2018 are five true freshmen -- outside hitter Ila Angermeier (Kirtland, Ohio), defensive specialist Virginia Natale (Garrettsville, Ohio), outside hitter/right side hitter Lauren Park (Millersburg, Ohio), setter Kyra Slavik (Saint Charles, Ill.) and defensive specialist/setter Emily Walsh (Allen, Texas).
The 2018 regular season begins for Ohio this weekend in Columbus. The Bobcats will make the drive up U.S. Route 33 to compete in the Sports Imports Classic hosted by in-state rival Ohio State. Ohio matches up with Texas A&M next Friday (Aug. 24) at 4 p.m., then takes on the host Buckeyes at 12:30 p.m. and Albany at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 25). Jake Hromada, 'The Voice of Ohio Volleyball', and Gabe Genovesi will have the call of the action on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet's GameCentral.
The Bobcats will return to the friendly confines of the Convocation Center Sept. 7-8 to play host to the annual Bobcat Invitational presented by Texas Roadhouse.
Ohio, which has won nine league regular season crowns, begins its 2018 MAC schedule with a home match against East Division rival Kent State on Sept. 20.
Following its 16-match conference slate, Ohio will take aim at winning its second MAC Championship title in four years and 10th in program history. The 2018 league tournament will be held Nov. 15-18 at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio, by virtue of Miami capturing the 2017 MAC regular season championship. The winner of the 2018 MAC Championship will secure the league's automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Championship. Miami also won the 2017 MAC tournament crown. The No. 1-seeded RedHawks swept No. 6-seeded Western Michigan, 3-0, in the conference title match to punch their ticket to the 2017 NCAA Championship Field. Miami was swept by Baylor, 3-0, in the NCAA Championship First Round.
The 2018 NCAA Championship begins with first and second-round action at campus sites. The regionals will also be held at campus sites. The 2018 NCAA Championship will take place at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., with the semifinals being held on Dec. 13 and the title match taking place on Dec. 15. The Bobcats are looking to make their 11th trip to the national postseason. Ohio is 5-10 (.333) all-time in NCAA Championship play and advanced to a regional semifinal in 2005.
The Bobcats are coming off of a 2017 season that saw Ohio go 17-15 -- including a 10-6 mark in MAC play. Ohio earned the No. 4 seed in the 2017 MAC Championship and a bye to the tournament quarterfinals. Ohio topped Eastern Michigan, 3-1, to advance to the league tournament semifinals for the 16th year in a row.
The Bobcats have gone 81-43 (.653) in four seasons under the direction of Webb. -- including 50-14 (.781) in MAC play. Ohio won a MAC regular season title with a perfect 16-0 (1.000) league year in 2014, then captured the conference tournament title in 2015.
For information on purchasing tickets for Ohio volleyball's home matches, click here or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).
2018 MAC PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
1. Ohio (9) - 68
2. Bowling Green (3) - 60
3. Buffalo - 45
4. Miami - 42
5. Kent State - 22
6. Akron - 12
1. Ball State (10) - 70
2. Western Michigan (2) - 59
3. Central Michigan - 43
4. Eastern Michigan - 30
5. Northern Illinois - 29
6. Toledo - 21
Regular Season Champions: Ohio (8), Bowling Green (3)
Tournament Champions: Ohio (5), Miami (2), Western Michigan (2), Bowling Green (1), Ball State (1)
Preseason East Division All-MAC Team
Kallie Seimet, Bowling Green
Tia Jimerson, Ohio
Andrea Mitrovic, Buffalo
Vera Giacomazzi, Ohio
Lizzie Stephens, Ohio
Katie Kidwell, Bowling Green
Margaret Payne, Miami
Preseason West Division All-MAC Team
Meg Wolowicz, Northern Illinois
Rachel Bontorager, Western Michigan
Ellie Dunn, Ball State
Jordan Smith, Eastern Michigan
Kalina Smith, Central Michigan
Amber Seaman, Ball State
Maurissa Leonard, Toledo