ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team (5-8, 0-0 MAC) begins Mid-American Conference play this weekend. The Bobcats open up the league schedule on Thursday (Sept. 20) with a showdown with East Division rival Kent State (7-7, 0-0 MAC) on Thursday (Sept. 20) at the Convocation Center, then hit the road to take on West Division foe Central Michigan (3-9, 0-0 MAC) on Saturday (Sept. 20) at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich.. Both matches are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. EST.
Thursday's matchup between the Bobcats and the Golden Flashes will be streamed live on ESPN3, with Jake Hromada, 'The Voice of Ohio Volleyball', and Gabe Genovesi on the call.
WEEK FIVE • MAC WEEK 1
Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018
7 p.m. EST | Ohio vs. Kent State | Convocation Center | Athens, Ohio | Live Stats | ESPN3
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018
7 p.m. EST | Ohio at Central Michigan | McGuirk Arena | Mount Pleasant, Mich. | Live Stats | Live Video
BOBCATS WRAP UP NON-CONFERENCE PLAY AT MIZZOU INVITATIONAL
Ohio concluded the non-conference portion of its 2018 schedule last weekend at the Mizzou Invitational in Columbia, Mo. The Bobcats fell to Drake, 3-2 (14-25, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 15-8), and host Missouri, 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 25-12), on Friday (Sept. 14) but closed the weekend out with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-21) sweep of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) led Ohio with 14 service aces (1.17 per set) while ranking third in both kills (28; 2.33 per set) and digs (22; 1.83 per set) over the three matches. She earned a spot on the All-Mizzou Invitational Team for her efforts. Kosiorek recorded a match-high five service aces to go along with nine kills and 11 digs in the loss to Drake. In the weekend finale, she led the match with six service aces and ranked second on the team with nine kills in the sweep of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Redshirt junior middle blocker Simone Miller (Kalamazoo, Mich.) led Ohio with 18 total blocks (two solo, 18 assisted; 1.50 per set) last weekend. She set a career high with 10 total blocks (one solo, nine assisted) in the loss to Drake.
OHIO CLINCHES SHARE OF 2018 BOBCAT INVITATIONAL TITLE
Ohio went 2-1 at the 2018 Bobcat Invitational presented by Texas Roadhouse at the Convocation Center two weekends ago to clinch a share of its home tournament title. The Bobcats opened the weekend with a 3-2 (25-27, 24-26, 25-22, 27-25, 15-11) triumph over Samford on Friday (Sept. 7) morning. After falling to Virginia Tech, 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 25-16) on Friday evening, Ohio closed the Bobcat Invitational out with a 3-1 (25-15, 17-25, 25-17, 25-21) win over IUPUI.
Redshirt senior right side hitter Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) enjoyed a big offensive week last week for the Bobcats, hitting .312 and ranking second on the team in both kills (46; 2.71 per set) and blocks (17; two solo, 15 assisted; 1.00 per set). Nelson started off week three of the 2018 season by tallying five assisted blocks in Ohio's 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 20-25, 22-25) setback at Marshall last Wednesday (Sept. 5) at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W. Va. She then posted double-digit kills in all three matches of the Bobcat Invitational. Nelson racked up a team-high 16 kills and added seven total blocks (one solo, six assisted) in the triumph over Samford. Later that evening, she hit .367 with 14 kills and chipped in two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) in the loss to Virginia Tech. She finished the weekend tournament strong, hitting .391 with 11 kills and totaling three assisted blocks as Ohio knocked off IUPUI.
Miller led the team and ranked fourth on the squad with 25 kills (1.47 per set) and 37 points (2.21 per set) last week. Miller opened week three of the 2018 season by matching her career high with seven assisted blocks in the loss at Marshall. She then put together a career performance in Ohio's triumph over Samford, hitting .650 with a career-high 14 kills and tallying a career-high eight assisted blocks.
JIMERSON NAMED MAC EAST DIVISION OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Sept. 4.
Jimerson became the first Bobcat to earn conference weekly award honors in 2018 and earned MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week recognition for the third time in her career.
Jimerson helped the Bobcats go 1-2 at the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Neb. Ohio fell to then-No. 5-ranked Nebraska, 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-17), then suffered a 3-0 (29-27, 25-18, 25-20) setback to Santa Clara on Aug. 31. The Bobcats closed out the weekend on a high note, sweeping Wake Forest, 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 27-25), on Sept. 1.
Jimerson hit a team-best .409 with a team-high 24 kills (2.67 per game). She also ranked second on the squad with 10 total blocks (10 assisted; 1.11 per set), helping her lead the team with 30 points (3.33 per set). Jimerson hit .429 with eight kills and also chipped in three assisted blocks last Friday as the Bobcats fell to Santa Clara. On Saturday, Jimerson tied for the match lead with 11 kills and hit .529 as Ohio swept Wake Forest. She also led the match with four assisted blocks.
BOBCATS GO 1-2 AT SPORTS IMPORTS CLASSIC TO OPEN 2018
Ohio began the 2018 campaign by going 1-2 at the Sports Imports Classic two weeks ago in Columbus. Sophomore setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) dished out a match-high 49 assists. She represented Ohio on the All-Sports Imports Classic Team after finishing the weekend with 94 assists (8.55 per set).
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.
IN IT TO WIN IT
Ohio was selected to win the MAC East Division, regular season and tournament titles in the league's 2018 preseason coaches' poll, the conference office announced on Aug. 22.
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.
IN THE RANKINGS
As a team, Ohio ranks second among MAC teams and 40th in the country with 75 service aces and third in the conference and 81st in the nation with 1.53 service aces per set. The Bobcats also rank fifth in the MAC and 61st in the country with 106.5 total blocks and fourth in the conference with 2.17 blocks per set.
READY FOR AN ENCORE
Giacomazzi, Jimerson and Stephens 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.
Through 13 matches in 2018, Stephens ranks second on the team in kills (113; 2.31 per set), service aces (18; 0.37 per set) and digs (108; 2.20 per set).
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).
Through 13 matches in 2018, Giacomazzi leads Ohio with 322 assists per set (6.57 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.
Jimerson, who has missed the last seven matches due to injury, is tied for fourth on the team with 19 total blocks (19 assisted; 0.95 per set) and ranks fourth with 60 kills (3.00 per set).
Stephens joins Kosiorek and Nelson as Ohio's co-captains for the 2018 season.
Kosiorek and Nelson are in their second seasons serving as team co-captains.
In addition to Kosiorek, Nelson and Stephens serving as team co-captains, junior libero/defensive specialist Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) is in her second season serving as the program's second-ever academic captain.
THE DEANE OF OHIO VOLLEYBALL
Deane Webb is in his fifth year as the head coach of the Ohio volleyball program in 2018. The Bobcats have gone 86-51 (.628) 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, the latter of which propelled the 'Cats to their 10th NCAA Championship appearance in program history.
The Bobcats have also excelled in the classroom under Webb. Ohio's 22 Academic All-MAC selections since Webb's arrival in Athens are the most under any head coach in the history of the Ohio volleyball program.
Webb owns an overall career coaching record of 456-267 (.631) over 21-plus seasons -- including 315-207 (.603) over 17-plus seasons at the NCAA Division I level.
On Tuesday, Webb caught up with Hromada to recap the Mizzou Invitational and preview the first weekend of conference play.
MEET THE COACHING STAFF
Ohio's bench features a coaching staff with both familiar and new faces. Joining Webb for a fifth season in Athens is assistant coach Maggie Couture. Rodnei Santos is in his second year as an assistant coach on Webb's staff. Laura Santos moves from the director of operations role to the volunteer assistant coach spot for her second season with the Bobcats. New to the Ohio coaching staff this year are director of operations Adam Kuntz and graduate manager/technical coordinator Andy Rynd.
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
The Bobcats' 29-match regular season slate is highlighted by four non-conference tournaments, 11 home matches at the Convocation Center and 16 MAC matchups. The Bobcats will battle six teams that ranked in the top 100 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) in 2017 and three 2017 NCAA Championship qualifiers -- including defending national champion Nebraska, regional semifinalist Missouri and MAC archrival Miami.
FOR THE RECORD
As a team, the 2017 squad's 183 service aces rank as the fourth-most in the rally scoring era in program history while its 1.50 service aces per set and 4,531 attacks both rank sixth, its 1,940 digs rank seventh and its 15.90 digs per set rank 10th.
The Bobcats welcome back 13 of the 2017 team's 15 student-athletes.
In addition to Giacomazzi, Howe, Jimerson, Kosiorek, Miller, Nelson and Stephens, redshirt freshman middle blocker Dahlias Bouyer (Brownstown, 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.
READY FOR A COMEBACK
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. Her 3,575 total attacks rank sixth overall in program history and fourth in the rally scoring era. Her 150 service aces are fifth overall in program history and second in the rally scoring era. She is 13 service aces away from breaking the program's career rally scoring era record. Her 0.38 service aces per set rank second in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 1,167 kills rank ninth in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 2.97 kills per set rank 10th in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 1,389.5 points rank eighth in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 3.53 points per set are seventh in the rally scoring era in program history.
Through 13 matches in 2018, Kosiorek leads Ohio with 129 kills (2.63 per set) and 30 service aces (0.61 per set). She enters this weekend ranked fourth in the country in service aces and ninth in service aces per set.
In 2016, Nelson led the team with a career-high 91 total blocks (17 solo, 74 assisted; 0.89 per set), recording five or more total blocks on a career-high seven occasions. She ranked fourth on the team with a career-high 201 kills (1.97 per set) and recorded double-digit kills on a career-high seven occasions.
Through 13 matches in 2018, Nelson ranks second on the team with 45 total blocks (three solo, 42 assisted; 0.94 per set) and third with 105 kills (2.19 per set).
Miller ranked third on the team with a career-high 49 total blocks (10 solo, 39 assisted; 0.98 per set) in 2016.
Through 13 matches in 2018, Miller leads Ohio with 50 total blocks (three solo, 47 assisted; 1.28 per set). She enters the weekend ranked fourth among MAC players in total blocks and first among MAC players in blocks per set.
With the squad plagued by injuries to key players, several Bobcats rose to the occasion to help keep Ohio competitive in 2017.
Olman ranked third on the team with a career-high 203 kills (1.95 per set) and posted double-digit kills a career-high nine times.
Januszewski totaled a career-high 158 kills (1.48 per set) to rank fourth on the team and posted double-digit kills three times. She also compiled a career-high 80 total blocks (nine solo, 71 assisted; 0.75 per set) to rank second on the team and posted five or more total blocks five times.
Vaughn ranked fourth on the team with a career-high 23 service aces (0.20 per set). She also tallied three or more service aces on two occasions.
Howe ranked fourth on the team with a career-high 275 digs (2.46 per set) and tallied double-digit digs on a career-high 15 occasions. She also ranked second on the team with a career-high 27 service aces (0.24 per set).
Remmers totaled a career-high 110 kills (1.43 per set) to rank fifth on the team and posted double-digit kills once. She also tallied a career-high 199 digs (2.58 per set) to rank fifth on the team and Posted double-digits 12 times -- including 20 or more once.
Though Giacomazzi and Jimerson earned all-conference accolades in 2017, Reihing put together a freshman campaign to remember as well. Her 484 digs led the team and ranked as the 10th-most in a single season in history and eighth-most in the rally scoring era while her 4.14 digs per set ranked as the ninth-most in a single season in the rally scoring era in program history. She tallied double-digit digs on 24 occasions -- including 20 or more nine times and 30 or more once.
Through 13 matches in 2018, Reihing leads the team with 192 digs (4.00 per set).
WELCOME TO ATHENS
New to the Ohio volleyball 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).
Angermeier was a three-year starter at Lake Catholic High School, serving Served as a senior team captain for the nationally ranked Cougars in 2017 and helping to lead the squad to a second-straight Ohio High School Athletic Association Final Four berth after an undefeated regular season. She was a Second Team All-Ohio selection and earned both First Team Division II and First Team North Coast League honors for the third year in a row in 2017.
Natale was a varsity starter and three-year letterwinner at Walsh Jesuit High School. She owned a career serving percentage of 93% and helped lead the Cavaliers to four Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I district titles (2014-17) and Division I regional runner up finishes in 2016 and '17.
Park was a four-year starter at West Holmes High School, compiling the eighth-most kills in Ohio High School Athletic Association history with 1,634 over her four-year career. She garnered First Team All-Ohio honors as both a senior in 2017 and a junior in '16 after earning Second Team honors in '15.
Park was named to the All-Ameritas Players Challenge Team after hitting .267 with 15 kills (2.14 per set).
Slavik was a three-year letterwinner at Saint Charles East High School and was an All-Illinois selection in 2017 after changing from setter to right side hitter due to team injuries, leading the Fighting Saints to their first regional win since '14 and an appearance in the sectional finals as team captain.
Slavik currently ranks second on the team with 136 assists (3.89 per set).
Walsh was a four-year letterwinner at Allen High School and Earned Honorable Mention All-District 6-6A honors as both a junior in 2016 and a senior in '17.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: KENT STATE
Ohio is 53-22 (.707) all-time against Kent State. The Bobcats and the Golden Flashes split the season series in 2017, with Ohio sweeping Kent State, 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20), on Nov. 9 at the Convo in the last meeting between the two squads.
Kent State, which was picked to place fifth in the East Division in the MAC's preseason poll, is led by seventh-year head coach Don Gromala.
Freshman outside hitter Kathryn Ellison leads the Golden Flashes with 134 kills (2.68 per set). Freshman defensive specialist/libero Erin Gardner has tallied a team-high 18 service aces (0.38 per set), which is tied for third among MAC players. She also leads the squad with 212 digs (4.42 per set). Redshirt freshman setter Alex Haffner has dished out a team-high 284 assists (8.11 per set). Junior middle blocker Myla King leads Kent State with 39 total blocks (four solo, 35 assisted; 0.95 per set) while freshman middle blocker Danie Tyson ranks second with 35 total blocks (12 solo, 23 assisted; 0.76 per set).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: CENTRAL MICHIGAN
The Bobcats trail the all-time series with the Chippewas, 26-22. In the lone meeting of the 2017 season between Ohio and Central Michigan, the Bobcats earned a 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-21) sweep of the Chippewas on Nov. 11 at the Convo.
Central Michigan is guided by third-year head coach Mike Gawlik. The Chippewas were picked to finish third in the West Division in the league's preseason poll.
Sophomore outside hitter Kalina Smith leads Central Michigan with 127 kills (2.82 per set). Freshman outside hitter Savannah Thompson has tallied a team-high 11 service aces (0.24 per set) and a team-high 126 digs (2.80 per set) in addition to ranking third on the squad with 100 kills (2.22 per set). Junior libero Megan Kern ranks second on the team with 125 digs (2.78 per set) while senior defensive specialist/outside hitter Emily Wenglikowski is third with 111 (2.47 per set). Senior setter Marissa Grant has dished out a team-high 211 assists (5.86 per set). Junior middle blocker Jayla Wesley leads the Chippewas with 27 total blocks (four solo, 23 assisted; 0.63 per set) while sophomore outside hitter Lyza Myers ranks second with 25 total blocks (two solo, 23 assisted; 0.56 per set) and freshman middle blocker Maddie Whitfield ranks third with 23 total blocks (two solo, 21 assisted; 0.53 per set). Myers also ranks second on the team with 113 kills (2.51 per set).
Before hosting the Bobcats on Saturday, Central Michigan plays host to West Division rival Eastern Michigan on Thursday.
Ohio will be back at the Convo next weekend to play host to a pair of East Division rivals, welcoming Buffalo next Friday (Sept. 28) at 7 p.m. and Akron on Saturday (Sept. 29) at 6 p.m. Both matches will be streamed live on ESPN+.