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Ohio University setter Vera Giacomazzi (No. 6) sets the ball to middle hitter Tia Jimerson during the home game against Central Michigan University on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, in Athens, Ohio. 

Volleyball: Ohio's setters are showing promise

The Bobcats ended Saturday on a high note after sweeping Mid-American Conference opponent Central Michigan in three sets. The win was the second match of the day, part of a doubleheader due to a blackout in Athens on Friday. 

Missing from the starting lineup was senior Vera Giacomazzi, who managed a double-double (30 assists, 10 digs) in the first match. In her stead, freshman Tria McLean earned the first start of her career at Ohio. 

“We don’t really stress about how long somebody has been here,” coach Deane Webb said. “Whoever we feel wins the job, that’s who’s going to play.”

The position of setter is one that is likely to rotate for the Bobcats due to the depth of the position group on the roster. Junior Emily Walsh and Wake Forest transfer Parker Kwiatkowski have yet to see action this season. 

“We have a number of really gifted setters,“ Webb said. “They put in the work.” 

The work done by this group is evident in the stats from the 2019 season.

Ohio’s current setters combined for 1,474 assists last season, the majority of which came from powerhouse Giacomazzi. She played 119 sets last season, while Walsh only played four for the Bobcats. 

Kwaitkowski is the only one of Ohio’s newest players to have played in a college setting before today. Last season, she played in 46 sets for Wake Forest. McLean saw her first college match this series.

“I’m proud of that position group as a whole,“ Webb said. “They make it a joy to coach, but they make it difficult because they’re all so good. We’ve got a lot of young kids, and they’ve got some good stuff.”

McLean proved that statement true in Saturday’s game, where she achieved her first collegiate double-double, like Giacomazzi did in the morning. She posted 49 assists and 10 digs in the shutout, showing her maturity on the court even as a freshman.

Maturity is no question for the Bobcats, as they’re seen helping each other in key moments. The team stresses the importance of veteran players mentoring the underclassmen. Whenever they’re not on the court, players are still contributing to the game by being vocal.

“I was very impressed with our upperclassmen today,“ Webb said. “I go into timeouts, and I hear very specific things told to people to help them win. I think that was a mature response by some older players who may not be getting what they want right now.”

This is only Ohio’s first series, and it’s already evident that there is a bright future ahead for the setting group. The roster depth provides a flexibility for future matches against strong opponents. There may not be a continuous starter in the setting position, but regardless of the starter, Ohio can be confident in its setter.


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