ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team (7-8, 2-0 MAC) looks to continue its strong start to 2018 Mid-American Conference play when it hosts a pair of East Division rivals at the Convocation Center on Parents Weekend. The Bobcats face Buffalo (8-6, 0-2 MAC) on Friday (Sept. 28) at 7 p.m., then square off against Akron (8-5, 0-2 MAC) on Saturday (Sept. 29) at 6 p.m.
Friday's matchup between the Bobcats and the Bulls will be streamed live on ESPN+, with Jake Hromada, 'The Voice of Ohio Volleyball,' and Gabe Genovesi on the call.
WEEK SIX • MAC WEEK 2
Friday, Sept. 28, 2018
7 p.m. EST | Ohio vs. Buffalo | Convocation Center | Athens, Ohio | Live Stats | ESPN+
Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018
6 p.m. EST | Ohio vs. Akron | Convocation Center | Athens, Ohio | Live Stats
WEBB TO HOST 'CHALK TALK' PRIOR TO FRIDAY'S MATCH
Prior to the Ohio volleyball team's remaining 2018 Friday home matches at the Convocation Center, fifth-year head coach Deane Webb will hold 'Chalk Talks' from 6-6:35 p.m. in the Rohr Room.
Webb's 'Chalk Talks' will allow fans of the Bobcats to learn more about the sport of volleyball as well hear some insights on the team. Some of the topics that will be discussed in the coming weeks include defenses, use of technology for scouting and film, common volleyball terminogoloy, use of statistics and more.
'Chalk Talks' will take place prior to the following matches:
Friday, Sept. 28 vs. Buffalo
Friday, Oct. 19 vs. Western Michigan
Friday, Nov. 9 vs. Bowling Green
Earlier this week, Webb caught up with Hromada to recap the first weekend of conference play and preview the upcoming home matches against Buffalo and Akron.
OHIO STARTS MAC PLAY 2-0
Ohio opened up the MAC portion of its schedule with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20) victory over East Division rival Kent State at the Convo last Thursday (Sept. 20). Junior middle blocker Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) hit a staggering .733 with a season-high 11 kills and no errors in 33 total attempts in the win over the Golden Flashes. The Bobcats then earned a 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-22) road sweep of West Division foe Central Michigan on Saturday (Sept. 22) at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The Bobcats have started MAC play 2-0 for the for the 14th time in the last 16 years -- including four of five seasons under Webb.
GIACOMAZZI NAMED MAC SETTER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) was named the MAC East Division Setter of the Week after helping Ohio start MAC play 2-0, as announced by the league office on Monday (Sept. 24).
Giacomazzi became the second Bobcat to earn conference weekly award honors in 2018, joining sophomore middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.), who was named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4. She earned conference weekly award recognition for the first time in her career and became the first Bobcat to be named MAC East Division Setter of the Week, which is a new conference weekly award for the 2018 season.
Giacomazzi totaled a team-high 84 assists (12.00 per set) for the Bobcats last weekend. She put together an impressive performance in the four-set win over Kent State, leading the match with 40 assists while adding eight digs and four total blocks (one solo, three assisted). Giacomazzi then led the match with 44 assists in the road sweep of West Division foe Central Michigan. The weekend marked the first time this season Giacomazzi has totaled at least 20 assists in back-to-back matches.
IN THE RANKINGS
As a team through 15 matches in 2018, Ohio is tied for the MAC lead and tied for 34th in the country with 88 service aces and ranks third in the conference and 57th in the nation with 1.57 service aces per set. The Bobcats also rank fifth in the MAC and 79th in the country with 122.5 total blocks and are tied for third in the MAC with 2.19 blocks per set.
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.
READY FOR AN ENCORE
Giacomazzi, Jimerson and junior outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) 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 15 matches in 2018, Stephens ranks second on the team in kills (134; 2.39 per set), service aces (22; 0.39 per set) and digs (127; 2.27 per set). She ranks third in the MAC and 42nd in the country in service aces and fourth in the conference and 85th in the nation in service aces 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 15 matches in 2018, Giacomazzi leads Ohio with 406 assists per set (7.25 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 nine matches due to injury, is fifth 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
Webb is in his fifth year as the head coach of the Ohio volleyball program in 2018. The Bobcats have gone 88-51 (.630) under the direction of Webb. -- including 52-14 (.788) 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 458-267 (.632) over 21-plus seasons -- including 317-207 (.605) over 17-plus seasons at the NCAA Division I level.
READY FOR A COMEBACK
Redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), redshirt senior right side hitter Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) and redshirt junior middle blocker Simone Miller (Kalamazoo, Mich.) 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 152 service aces are fifth overall in program history and second in the rally scoring era. She is 11 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 1,193 kills rank ninth in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 2.98 kills per set rank 10th in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 1,418.5 points rank seventh in the rally scoring era in program history. Her 3.55 points per set are seventh in the rally scoring era in program history.
Through 15 matches in 2018, Kosiorek leads Ohio with 155 kills (2.77 per set) and 32 service aces (0.57 per set). She enters this weekend ranked fifth in the country in service aces and eighth 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 15 matches in 2018, Nelson ranks second on the team with 52 total blocks (three solo, 49 assisted; 0.95 per set) and third with 125 kills (2.27 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 15 matches in 2018, Miller leads Ohio with 64 total blocks (five solo, 59 assisted; 1.39 per set). She enters the weekend ranked fourth among MAC players in total blocks and first among MAC players and 25th in the country in blocks per set. Last weekend, Miller led Ohio with 14 total blocks (two solo, 12 assisted; 2.00 per set). She matched her career high with 10 total blocks (two solo, eight assisted) in the victory over Kent State.
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 15 matches in 2018, Reihing leads the team with 234 digs (4.25 per set).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: BUFFALO
Ohio is 38-3 (.927) all-time against Buffalo. The Bobcats and the Bulls split the season series in 2017, with Ohio sweeping Buffalo, 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-22), on Oct. 28 at the Convo in the last meeting between the two squads.
Buffalo, which was picked to place third in the East Division in the MAC's preseason poll, is led by fourth-year head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz. The Bulls opened MAC play with a pair of home losses to East Division rivals, falling to Bowling Green, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-21) last Friday (Sept. 21), then suffering a 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 25-19) loss to Miami the following day.
Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic leads Buffalo and ranks sixth in the MAC with 196 kills (4.00) per set). Junior middle blocker Kristina Nieves leads the team with 52 total blocks (nine solo, 43 assisted; 1.00 per set) while junior middle blocker/right side hitter Megan Wernette ranks second with 46 total blocks (nine solo, 37 assisted; 0.88 per set). Junior setter Scout McLerran leads Buffalo with 281 assists (9.37 per set) while sophomore setter Tia Gleason is second with 256 (10.24 per set). Senior libero/defensive specialist Larra Bickelhaupt has posted a team-high 17 service aces (0.33 per set) and 194 digs (3.73 per set).
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: AKRON
The Bobcats hold a 36-23 (.610) lead in the all-time series with the Zips. Ohio took both meetings from Akron in the 2017 regular season -- including a 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-21) sweep on Oct. 27 at the Convo.
Akron is guided by fourth-year head coach Tom Hanna. The Zips were picked to finish sixth in the West Division in the league's preseason poll. Akron opened up 2018 MAC play with two home losses to East Division rivals, suffering a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-18) loss to Miami last Friday, then dropping a tough 3-2 (14-25, 25-19, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12) decision to Bowling Green the following day.
Senior left side hitter Kayla Gwozdz leads Akron with 146 kills (2.92 per set). Sophomore setter Emily Weigand ranks second in the MAC and seventh in the country with 30 service aces (0.60 per set; first in the MAC, fifth in the country) and also leads the team with 338 assists (6.76 per set). Junior middle blocker Ashley Richardson has tallied a team-high 34 total blocks (five solo, 29 assisted; 0.68 per set). Sophomore defensive specialist Taylor Sharrits has piled up a team-high 220 digs (4.40 per set).
Before visiting the Bobcats on Saturday, Akron makes the short drive to play at MAC East Division archrival Kent State on Friday.
Ohio begins a stretch of four-straight road matches next weekend, visiting MAC East Division archrival Miami on Friday (Oct. 5), then traveling to play East Division rival Bowling Green on Saturday (Oct. 6).