The new-look Ohio State women’s volleyball team is set to head west for its first test of the season.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to start their 2014 regular season with three games at the University of Oregon Invitational in Eugene, Ore., this weekend — one Friday before a doubleheader on Saturday.
Last year, the Buckeyes began the season with 13 consecutive victories, but ended up losing 14 of their final 19 games, thus failing to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2008 season.
While the team lost three key players in libero Davionna DiSalvatore, defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo and honorable mention American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, coach Geoff Carlston said he believes his team has more depth than last season, when the Buckeyes had to battle through multiple injuries.
“I do think we’re deeper. When we had those injuries, we didn’t have a lot of depth last year,” Carlston said. “The biggest change is that we have (17) players, and so it gives (the team) a lot more room to make some adjustments and to compete within each position.”
OSU played just 13 players last season.
Two of the newest Buckeyes are transfer students who could make immediate impacts on the team this season. Carlston said the additions of junior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell from Duke and junior middle blocker Tyler Richardson from Middle Tennessee State allow him to look to his bench when in need.
“They’re both still trying to find their flow a little bit, but both are very talented and both are (going to) help us a lot,” Carlston said of Campbell and Richardson.
In addition to gaining two transfers, the Buckeyes added five freshmen for the 2014 season, including freshman defensive specialist Luna Tsujimoto, of Irvine, Calif. She hasn’t played in a regular season game yet, but she said she already loves the university.
“I love the spirit and all the people,” Tsujimoto said. “There’s so much to do here.”
With a lot of new faces added to this year’s team, senior defensive specialist Alyssa Winner said she knows she and the veteran players need to help their new teammates get acclimated.
“It’s a lot of fun, looking back and seeing the freshmen come in,” Winner said. “It’s a lot of fun to pick them up and take them under your wing.”
OSU is set to take on Oregon on Friday at 10 p.m. before Saturday matchups with Illinois State at 2 p.m. and Central Arkansas at 8 p.m.
After the tournament, the Buckeyes are scheduled to play their next three games back in Columbus at the 9th Annual Sports Imports D.C. Koehl Classic at St. John Arena on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7.