Sept. 14, 2013
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Behind a double-double from senior Kelly Lamberti and superior setting from sophomore Abby Gilleland, the Ohio University volleyball team (7-1) moved to 2-1 against ranked teams this season with a 3-0 win (25-21, 25-23, 25-23) over No. 21 Western Kentucky (6-4) Saturday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) led the `Cats with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Gilleland notched 38 assists (12.7/set) to go along with seven kills as the `Cats played one of their best offensive matches of the season against the host Hilltoppers.
"Other than the beginning of the first and third sets, I thought this was the best we've played as a group," head coach Ryan Theis said. "We had to earn the win. We scored about 21 or 22 points a game because Western Kentucky wasn't giving us much. The ability to earn the win over a very good team and a very good program is an excellent stride for our team."
The `Cats shined at the net, knocking down 52 kills to WKU's 44 while holding a commanding 9-2 edge in total blocks. The Green & White hit a solid .317 for the match and never dipped below the .300 mark in any of its three sets.
Freshman outside hitter Katie Horton (Westland, Mich.) posted her second-straight double-digit kill outing (10) while redshirt junior Liis Kullerkann (Keila, Estonia) played one of the best matches of her career with nine kills and four blocks while hitting at a commanding .500 clip.
"It was great to see Liis that offensive," Theis said. "I thought Abby did a great job of distributing the ball and getting her into good situations."
Graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson (Phoenix, Ariz.) entered Friday's match ranked No. 14 in the nation in blocks/set and added to her total against the Hilltoppers, recording a match-high seven total blocks to go along with five kills and a .364 hitting percentage.
Sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) anchored the Ohio back line with a team-high 16 digs, marking the seventh-straight match in which she's recorded at least 10 digs. Freshman libero/outside hitter Mallory Salis (Oak Lawn, Ill.) made it two-straight double-digit dig outings with 10 and added three kills at the net for Ohio.
The Hilltoppers posted four of the first five points of the match, before two-straight kills from Gilleland moved the `Cats back within one (4-3). WKU extended its lead back to three at 11-8, before Ohio stormed back with three-straight - including kills from Gilleland and Bull - to knot the score at 11.
Two-straight blocks from the `Cats gave Ohio its first lead (17-15) and the visitors stayed in front by one (19-18) on a kill from Katie Horton. Consecutive kills from Kullerkann and Pinson gave Ohio a two-point lead (23-21). The `Cats won the final two points of the set, completing a 6-1 run to take the frame, 25-21.
Bolstered by an early 5-0 run, Ohio jumped out to a 9-6 lead in set two and moved in front by five (15-10) on a kill from Horton. Two straight block assists from Pinson helped Ohio move in front by six (19-13), but three-straight points from the Hilltoppers cut the Bobcat lead to three (20-17).
The Green & White took a four-point lead on a kill from Lamberti (23-19), but WKU raced back with three straight to cut the edge to one (23-22). Ohio responded with a kill by Bull to set up set point (24-22) and the `Cats split the final two points of the frame to take it, 25-23.
WKU built an early 7-3 lead in set three, but the `Cats responded with five of the next seven points to cut the deficit to one (9-8). The Hilltoppers responded with three straight to claim a four-point lead (12-8) and stayed in front by that mark at 17-13. At that point, Ohio raced back with three-straight to cut the lead to one (17-16), and the `Cats tied it up at 18 on a kill from Lamberti.
The Hilltoppers moved in front by one at 20-19, but Ohio raced back with two more to build a one point Bobcat lead (21-20) after an ace from Lamberti. Ohio earned match point at 24-22, then sealed the victory on a kill from Horton.
With the win, the 'Cats moved to 2-0 in road matches this season and are now an impressive 23-3 in total sets on the year.
Ohio now aims to claim the WKU Invitational title tonight at 6 p.m. versus the University of Virginia.