Was the 2018 campaign for Ohio volleyball an outlier?
Well, consider that the six-seven matchup in the MAC tournament had long time and established powers Ohio and Northern Illinois facing off well down in the brackets. According to head coach Deane Webb, if the European tour was any indication, the Bobcats will be back in the customary role of contender.
“We had great chemistry during the tour and played some quality opponents and got good performance across the board,” he said. “The Spring schedule was also a good indicator for us and showed we have a good team culture.”
There are ten additions to the roster for 2019 including two transfers, a grad student, and some local flavor. But the core strength will be the award winning returnees and veterans.
Setting up the high flying front line will be all-MAC setter Vera Giacomazzi. And there will be a cornucopia of options up top. Both junior Tia Jimerson and sophomore Dahlias Bouyer can leap to the rafters for spikes and blocks in the center while the wings feature veterans like solid returnee Sara Januszewski, slick Lizzie Stephens, powerful Lauren Park, and Ila Angermeier. To sweeten the experience blend, grad transfer from Samford Shayla Phillip comes to the court with an impressive career in the middle, Maggie Nedoma will have two years in the Convo after two years’ experience as a starter at Southern Illinois, and Emily Tupa was a force at the nets for New Hampshire.
In the back line of defense, Macy Reihing enters her junior year as one the most accomplished liberoes in the MAC with senior running mate Meredith Howe not far behind. Rotating into the defensive pattern with success have been Allyson Vaughn, Emily Walsh, and Virginia Natale.
“We’ve had issues with numbers of available players in the recent past both for practice and games. So this year we have twenty-two on our roster. We set ourselves up to have functional depth on the court and we seem to have achieved it for this season.”
Aside from the impressive transfer trio, Webb and his staff have filled the coffers with seven true freshmen, all with the potential to fit into the Bobcat system.
“With freshmen, you are always determining whether they can adapt to the speed and power of the D1 competition. We were pretty satisfied with what we saw on the European trip and training sessions.”
Olivia and Emily Margolies will be competing for time along the front line as will 6’3” Georgia product Caitlin O’Farrell, and Federal Hocking graduate Jaylen Rogers. Looking for time supporting the blockers and hitters will be Texan Abby Arend, Ciara Livingway and Gallia Academy’s Ashton Webb.
Though the win/loss record may not have been up to their standards, academically the Bobcats were stellar as usual. The team again earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association team academic award. Also, Ohio had seven named to the MAC All-Academic team. Giacomazzi, Howe, Januszewski, Stephens and Howe are the awarded players on the current roster. Stephanie Ohlman and Jaime Kosiorek were 2018/19 graduates.
The schedule will be a solid test for the conference season as usually designed. It all begins with the popular Green and White scrimmage and cook out, held in the Convo on Saturday, August 17.
Webb will host a “Volleyball 101” orientation session for fans at 2 p.m. and the match will start at 3 p.m. A canned food item is requested for admittance while the cookout charge is $10 per person. Reservations may be addressed to Andrew Rynd at the Convocation Center. Webb quipped that with nearly half the team new arrivals, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard and hopefully we’ll have them available.”
The ‘Cats will be tournament bound for the first few weeks at Green Bay and American University but will return for the Bobcat Invitational beginning September 13.
Ohio legends Ellen Herman-Gimball and Abby Gilliland will return as head coach and assistant, respectively, for the Connecticut Huskies. Known during their playing days in the Convo as the “Herminator” and “the Assassin”, they should be well received and remembered when they match up with the hosts. The College of Charleston and Virginia round out the tourney entrants.
Then it’s off to the North Texas tournament before returning to open the MAC schedule with Miami and Bowling Green, the top two teams from 2018. “That will set the tone for the season all across the conference,” Webb said. “We’ll know how we stack up and the rest of the conference will take notice from the results.”
Rodnei Santos, Maggie Couture, and Laura Santos return as Webb’s staff, providing stability and leadership. “We’ve got an experienced staff and we’ve worked well together over the years.”
Always involved in the Athens community, Ohio Volleyball is looking to get back to where their expectations have been. And, they are eager to show that and meet with their loyal fans at the Green and White scrimmage Saturday, the 17th.