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Women’s volleyball opens season with NIU Invitational

Daniel Chi / For The Lantern Then-senior Mari Hole attempts to score during a match against Nebraska on Sept. 22, 2012, at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1.

Daniel Chi / For The Lantern
Then-senior Mari Hole attempts to score during a match against Nebraska on Sept. 22, 2012, at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1.

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team will kick off its 2013 season at the NIU Invitational in DeKalb, Ill., Friday against Liberty.

OSU opens the season ranked No. 23 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll, coming off a year in which the squad made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before it fell to Kentucky.

Coach Geoff Carlston said the Buckeyes will not be trying to fill the holes left by the departures of third-team All-American outside hitter Mari Hole, honorable mention All-American outside hitter EmilyDanks, setter Amanda Peterson and middle blocker Mariah Booth.

“Every year is different, every team’s dynamic is a little bit different,” Carlston said, adding the Buckeyes are “trying to figure out what’s the best lineup for this group of people.”

Beyond figuring out a new lineup, losing four seniors can leave a leadership void. Carlston said his current seniors, libero Davionna DiSalvatore, defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo and outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, have helped to fill the gap.

“I’m excited to just take on that role,” Leary said. “And (I’m) ready for it.”

Carlston said outside hitter Erin Sekinger, defensive specialist Alyssa Winner and setter Taylor Sherwin have helped to fill in as well.

“These kids who are juniors have stepped up too,” Carlston added. “They noticed that they needed to.”

Freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said the returning players have helped bridge the gap for the four newcomers, and make sure everyone is on the same page as the coaches.

“Let’s say practice starts at 3 (p.m.),” Sandbothe said. “Secretly that means practice starts at 2:30 (p.m.).”

Carlston praised his newcomers and returnees alike, but said the team still has areas to improve, including communication and aggressiveness.

“You know, be aggressive,” he said. “Don’t worry about making mistakes.”

The Buckeye coach said he is not worried about these issues, but understands that his team has a very tough schedule ahead.

OSU will take on Liberty at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by a double header Saturday against Green Bay at 1 p.m. and Northern Illinois at 8 p.m.

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