Sept. 15, 2007
DENVER, Colo. -
The No. 17 Ohio volleyball lost to Long Beach State in five games, 23-30, 30-27, 30-26, 27-30, 11-15, in the championship match of the Pioneer Classic Saturday evening at Hamilton Gym on the University of Denver campus. The Bobcats, who won their first two matches of the tournament against Denver and Washington State, fall to 8-3 with the loss, while tournament champion Long Beach State improves to 6-4.
Ohio led the match two games to one and held a 26-20 advantage in the fourth game, but was unable to close out the match on the 49ers. Long Beach State scored six straight points and 10 of the next 11 to win game four 30-27 and prolong the match to a fifth game.
The Bobcats lost the first four points of the deciding game and trailed 13-7 before two freshman stepped up to cut the deficit to three. Freshman outside hitter Sue Jacobi (Louisville, Ky.) connected on back-to-back kills and then freshman outside hitter Melissa Szkutnik (Perrysburg, Ohio) slammed a kill, bringing the score to 13-10. That was as close as the Bobcats would get and the 49ers went on to win 15-11 to capture the tournament title.
Ohio was forced to face Long Beach State at less than 100 percent, as the Bobcats began the match without sophomore standout Ellen Herman (Toledo, Ohio) and then lost sophomore middle blocker Meghan Simons (Lancaster, Ohio) in the second game. Herman sat out the entire match due to an ankle injury she suffered on the first day of the tournament, while Simons injured her ankle during the second game and missed the remainder of the match.
The Bobcats had several players step up in their absence, but without being at full strength the `Cats had no answer for Long Beach State middle blocker Alexis Crimes. Crimes finished with a match-high 27 kills on a .377 hitting percentage to go with eight digs and six total blocks on her way to being named tournament MVP.
The Bobcats were led by senior middle blocker Melissa Griffin (Whitehall, Mich.) and senior outside hitter Stephanie Blackburn (Cincinnati, Ohio), who were each named to the Pioneer Classic All-Tournament Team. Griffin had 18 kills and four blocks and Blackburn totaled 15 kills and seven digs. Sophomore middle blocker Jane Sytsma (Madison, Wis.) played well for Ohio, finishing with 13 kills on a .250 hitting percentage. Ohio junior setter Jill DeArmond (Fort Wayne, Ind.) had a team-high 41 assists and added seven digs and five kills, and junior defensive specialists Molly Mangan (Claire Ill.) had a team-high 15 digs for the Bobcats.
Ohio took an early 8-1 lead in the first game, but the advantage would not hold. The Bobcats led 19-17, when Long Beach State scored five straight points and 11 of the next 13 to take control of the game, en route to a 30-23 victory.
In the second game, Long Beach State used a 7-0 run to turn a 10-9 deficit into a 16-10 lead. Ohio fought its way back, tying the score at 24-24, before a ball handling error and an attack error by the Bobcats put the 49ers in front, 26-24. Ohio responded, scoring six of the final seven points to win the game 30-27 and tie the match at 1-1.
Ohio was out-hit .222 to .258 in the third game, but won all the critical points to take the game 30-26 and go up 2-1 in the match.
The Bobcats begin Mid-American Conference play this upcoming weekend, when they travel to Buffalo, Sept. 21 and to Akron, Sept. 22. The four-time defending MAC Champion Bobcats enter MAC play with a 50-match conference winning streak intact.