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Ohio Opens Bobcat Invitational with Sweep of Niagara

Mollie Geske paced the 'Cats with 11 digs this afternoon.

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Volleyball won its first game in the Bobcat Invitational this afternoon, toppling Niagara in straight sets 25-13, 25-20, 25-23. Kelly Lamberti had 17 kills to pace the Bobcats and surpassed the 500 mark for her career.

“We were very efficient on offense today,” Head Coach Ryan Theis said. ““Niagara is a very scrappy team and they seem to find every open square inch of the court and locate the ball.  I think that in the third set we had some defensive lapses, and we struggled on a few things here and there in the second set, but I was happy that we finished the game well. I hope that we come out with energy tonight.”

Lamberti, who’s season-high was 19 in a four-setter with nationally-ranked Oregon, finished two off that mark in only three frames today. She also helped pace the Bobcats with 11 digs for her 22nd career double-double.

Lexie Hartnett had nine kills and three blocks while Serena Warner led the team with four denials at the net. Chelsea Bilger racked up eight kills with Faith Robins adding six and hitting .500. Abby Gilleland had 33 assists to lead the Green and White while Mollie Geske tied for the team lead with 11 digs apiece.

Ohio used a five-point run, leading 5-4, to open up a six-point advantage. Leading 14-10, kills and blocks by Lamberti, Robins and Warner propelled Ohio to an eight-point cushion. The Bobcats used one final five-point flurry with Liis Kullerkann serving to win the set. Lamberti finished with seven kills as Ohio hit .382 as a team.

Consecutive kills by Hartnett and another from Lamberti helped Ohio gain a 10-6 edge in the second set. An attack error with Carley Jones serving allowed the Green and White to take its largest lead at 15-9. Niagara would battle back and eventually tie the set at 20-20 on a kill by Ellen Senf.

Despite facing the prospects of having the match tied at the intermission, Ohio rattled off five-consecutive points to win the set and take a 2-0 lead in the match. Lamberti had six kills in the second set with Warner, Bilger and Robins all making critical plays during the final run.

Ohio fell behind 7-5 in the third set until scoring five in a row. Gilleland, who finished the set with eight assists, had two of her three blocks while teaming with Hartnett during the Bobcat push. Niagara would eventually draw even at 13-13 and the teams would trade volleys before another Gillleland-Hartnett combo block opened up an Ohio three-point lead.

Down 18-15, the Purple Eagles would answer right back and knot the score. The scoreboard remained deadlocked until 23-23 when Bilger notched the final Bobcat kill of the match. An ace by Kullerkann ended things with Ohio earning its second sweep in the last three matches.

Ohio hosts Belmont tonight at 7 p.m. with Montana State playing Niagara in the preceding game