ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team competed in front of its home fans at the Convocation Center for the first time in 2018, hosting its annual Green & White Scrimmage today.
The White Team took four of the scrimmage's five sets from the Green Team.
"I thought we looked good today for having only three days of training," said fifth-year head coach Deane Webb. "That said, it's evident that there are many, many things that we just haven't worked on yet. I thought transition today was pretty poor, but we haven't worked on it yet. It's one of those things that we're not going to get too stressed about. We just need to make sure in the next week it gets a lot better. I think, overall, it was great for the freshmen just to get their first time out on the court and get used to that. I think for most of the freshmen, there's a big difference between set one versus as they went through the match. They played pretty well as the match went on. It's just great to get back into it."
Junior outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas), who was an All-Mid-American Conference First Team selection for the Bobcats in 2017, came away impressed with how the team performed.
"I think we're looking very good very early," said Stephens. "We've had a total of three days to practice before we did this, and I think it's pretty cool seeing how good we are playing together even with just three days of practice, I think there's a big road ahead for us, and I think there's a lot of potential we have to live up to."
The Green & White Scrimmage marked the unofficial Ohio debuts of 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).
"I think they did really good," said Stephens of the freshmen. "They're very comfortable. They don't seem very nervous or anything in there. You don't even really notice that they're freshmen when they're out there."
The Green & White Scrimmage also saw the returns of redshirt freshman middle blocker Dahlias Bouyer (Brownstown, Mich.), redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), redshirt junior middle blocker Simone Miller (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and redshirt senior right side hitter Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) who all missed either all or the majority of the 2017 season due to injuries.
"It's awesome to see them out there," said Stephens. "They're being put in big situations because we know they can do that. Yesterday, I was serve receiving next to Jaime, and I was like, 'I've missed this feeling.' Having them out there just changes a lot of things, and it's good to have all of them back again."
With 13 of the 2017 team's 15 student-athletes back and the infusion of five newcomers, Webb's '18 squad is arguably the deepest since his arrival in Athens.
"There are some really good players who won't get to play as much," said Webb. "That's just the nature of having that kind of talent around you. The positive side is that we're looking at the opportunity to have kids, if they need to play one match on a weekend and not two, the gap between No. 2 and 3 at most positions is truly negligible. It allows us some other opportunities, whether that is in a full match or getting somebody in for a set or even for a rotation. Just to take a few less jumps for some of our older players, that's a very positive thing for us."
Ohio will have the chance to test both its talent and its depth next Saturday (Aug. 18) when it hosts Pittsburgh in a 1 p.m. EST exhibition match at the Convo. The Panthers went 26-7 in 2017 and finished the season ranked No. 28 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Pittsburgh sported an 18-2 mark in conference play and clinched a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title, giving the Panthers their first league crown in program history. Pittsburgh earned a 3-1 win over VCU in an NCAA Championship First Round matchup before falling to in-state rival Penn State in the Second Round, 3-1. On Wednesday (Aug. 8), Pittsburgh was ranked No. 20 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Top-25 Poll. The Panthers also received all 14 possible first-place votes in the 2018 ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, which was announced on Aug. 3.