(Russell) Gessner, Lindsey


Otterbein Volleyball was searching for answers while in rebuilding mode when Dublin product Lindsey (Russell) Gessner arrived in the fall of 2008. She quickly became the team’s starting libero, giving second-year head coach Monica McDonald the first piece to what has become a decorated puzzle.


The Cardinals went 4-26 the year before Russell enrolled, and began to show steady improvement with a 9-23 mark the following year. Behind its defensive star, the group would burst onto the scene in 2009 with a massive leap – going 24-9 with a new school record for single-season wins. The next year saw 26 victories and the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Championships. Highlighting that season was a thrilling five-set win over eventual national champ Wittenberg, when Russell tallied 32 digs to help her team erase a 2-1 deficit. Another 26 wins came during Russell’s senior campaign, which once again ended in the NCAA’s.


After it was all said and done, Russell had played in 121 career matches (second all-time, now fourth) as the Cardinals posted a 76-22 record over her final three seasons. She and teammate Ally Nagle became the program’s first two All-Americans, both earning honorable mention status. A 3x All-Ohio Athletic Conference pick, Russell was named 2011 OAC Libero of the Year while finishing atop Otterbein’s record books in every dig category; in a match (44), in a season (778), per set (6.7), and in a career (2,428). Her career total was good enough to rank fourth in OAC history and now holds up fifth.


Russell was also a near-perfect student inside the classroom, graduating with over a 3.90 GPA as an allied health major. That production garnered multiple Academic All-OAC and All-District honors before culminating with second team CoSIDA Academic All-America status… as one of just 18 standouts across the nation to receive a nod. At the time, Russell became just the ninth athlete in school history to secure All-American honors for both academic and athletics in the same season. She also received the OAC Clyde Lamb Award upon graduation, presented annually to the top male/female senior student-athletes at each of the 10 league institutions.


Lindsey went on to become a physical therapist and married accomplished Cardinal baseball player Brandon Gessner. The couple now has two children; Matthew and Liam.


Russell earns a celebrated place in the history of Otterbein Athletics not just for a long list of accolades, but also for the perseverance and dedication into helping the volleyball program blossom into what fans now see today.