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Bobcats Battle, But Beaten by No. 7 Illinois, 3-1

Kelly Lamberti recorded the 20th double-double of her career against No. 7 Illinois.

Aug. 25, 2012

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DAYTOn, Ohio - Ohio fought valiantly but dropped a tough match to No. 7 Illinois on the second day of the Flyer Classic, 23-25, 25-19, 22-25, 18-25. Kelly Lamberti notched the 20th double-double of her Bobcat career, finishing with 16 kills and 19 digs.

"I was really happy with our fight the first three games and thought we went toe to toe with a very good team," Head Coach Ryan Theis said. "I am really encouraged by this group but we will need to get better all season in order to compete for a championship at the end."

Chelsea Bilger and Lexie Hartnett each eclipsed the double-digit kill mark with 12 and 10 respectively. Freshman Abby Gilleland had a team-high 40 assists and classmate Meredith Ashy had a match-high 22 digs. Carley Jones amassed 10 digs and both Gilleland and Serena Warner racked up four blocks.

"Our middles were a big factor in keeping us in the match, and Meredith has been fantastic for us in the first two matches of this tournament," Theis added. "Our backline kept us in volleys throughout, 74 digs against a tournament team is impressive, and Kelly [Lamberti] is doing everything we ask of her offensively and defensively."

The first set started 3-3 before a block and two attack errors gave Ohio a three-point cushion. Illinois would eventually capture the lead, 9-8, with a three-point run of its own. A combo block by Warner and Lamberti allowed Ohio to re-take the lead 12-11. This advantage would last the Green & White for a while but consecutive points gave Illinois a 19-18 edge.

Hartnett, Lamberti and Gilleland would combine at the net to give Ohio the lead once more at 22-21 and an Illinois attack error opened up a two-point Bobcat edge. However, the Illini pulled even with an ace and would wind up the final four points of the set, winning 25-23.

Lamberti led Ohio's attack with six kills, five dig and three blocks. As a team, the Bobcats notched 3.5 blocks in the first set.

Illinois used the momentum from the first set and turned it into a quick 7-4 lead in the second. Eventually, a block would give the Illini their largest lead at 10-6 and Ohio was forced to use a timeout.

Out of the huddle, Ohio rallied and scored the next three points to force Illinois to use a timeout. The run would continue as a Warner kill tied the score and a combo block by the sophomore and Gilleland gave Ohio a lead it would not relinquish.

After opening up a three-point lead at 15-12, Illinois scored three of the next four points to close the gap to one. However, Ohio scored six of the next seven points to take its largest lead at 22-16. Once more, Illinois tried to put up a fight with three-straight points, but consecutive kills from Lamberti, Hartnett and Leah Petrovich won the set for the Green and White, 25-19.

Hartnett would wind up with five kills on nine swings in the second set as Ohio hit a tournament best .294, evening the match at one game apiece.

Ohio took a 6-4 lead in the third set but Illinois would score five of the next six points to take a 9-7 lead. The Bobcats would then erase a three-point deficit and tie the set, 13-13, on an Illinois attack error. The two sides would then trade the next 12 points before Illinois used a timeout with the score knotted 19-19.

Illinois finally garnered the first bit of separation with consecutive points to go ahead 22-20. That would prove costly as the Green and White eventually fell 25-22, sliding behind in the match two sets to one. Gilleland and Lamberti would each finish with four kills in the set while Ashy recorded a match-best eight digs.

Illinois opened up an 8-2 lead in the fourth set but cut the lead in half after an ace by Ashy made it 11-8. With their lead still at three points, the Illini used a quick run to double the advantage, forcing Ohio to use a timeout trailing 16-10.

Trailing 22-15, Ohio used a 3-0 run, capped by an ace from Petrovich to claw within four and force an Illinois timeout. Despite their efforts, the `Cats would drop the fourth set, 25-18.

Ohio will play host Dayton in the final game of the Flyer Classic tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.