ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio increased its winning streak against Kent State to 21 matches with a sweep this evening. The ‘Cats took their MAC home opener in straight sets, 25-19, 28-26, 25-22 and captured their ninth-straight home game against a MAC East foe.
“What I liked tonight, something we haven’t been doing lately, was come from behind to win a set,” Head Coach Ryan Theis said. “They led late in the second set, pushed us late in set three and we found a way to finish them off.”
Kelly Lamberti notched a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, while classmate Chelsea Bilger also added 12 kills, two shy of her season-high. Faith Robins tacked on nine kills, one shy of her season-high while Lexie Hartnett had seven kills to surpass the century mark for the season.
Serena Warner led Ohio with eight blocks, her second-highest total of the season. Meredith Ashy paced the ‘Cats with 20 digs, her fourth match this season of 20 digs or more, and Abby Gilleland had 32 assists and surpassed the 400-mark for 2012. Mollie Geske had her third double-digit dig contest of the season with 10.
The Bobcats, who lead the MAC in blocking with an average of 2.66 per set and rank 30th in the nation, had 11.0 total team blocks. The offense also got off to a good start with a .387 attack percentage in the first set against the Golden Flashes.
“We learned a lot our from our last loss,” freshman Meredith Ashy said. “We have been playing more as a team and I think that is what is helping us win. We need to play our game and have the mentality that we need to win every single volley that we get. We have really been focusing on digging the ball and getting it high and in the middle so we can attack.”
Ohio fell behind 6-3 in the first set and saw the deficit eventually grow to four. Trailing 11-8, the ‘Cats put together four in a row to retake the lead at 12-11 on a dual block by Gilleland and Hartnett. With the set tied 14-14, Hartnett and Bilger recorded kills before Warner denied a KSU attack to give Ohio a three-point edge.
The Golden Flashes would tie things once more at 18-18 before an error and kill by Robins forced a KSU timeout. Ahead by only one, Ohio scored the final five points of the set thanks to two kills by Robins, two blocks from Hartnett and an attack error.
Ohio took five of the first seven points in the second set before the teams started to trade points. The ‘Cats pushed the margin to four before the Golden Flashes cut the edge to 15-14. Kills by Warner and Robins reasserted Ohio’s advantage in the set and forced a KSU timeout.
Three points in a row by the visitors forced an Ohio timeout and Kent State eventually took a 23-21 lead. Facing set point, Robins delivered a kill and Liis Kullerkann followed with an ace to tie the score. After a timeout, Warner and Lamberti combined on a block give Ohio the lead.
The teams would trade points and KSU would stay in the set until an unlikely hero emerged. Geske, a defensive specialist picked up her first kill of the season to give Ohio the 28-26 victory and a two-set lead.
“They put is in some tough spots but I thought we bounced back,” Theis said. “I have to give Liis credit for stepping in and ripping an ace to tie the game at 24. She also put a ton of service pressure on them at 25 and got them out of system. That point at the end saved the day.”
Down in the third set, Ohio scored four in a row, culminating in a Gilleland ace to take a 6-4 lead. After falling behind 8-7, the ‘Cats would score four in a row to retake a lead. The largest lead would after a dual block by Warner and Bilger made it 17-11. The Golden Flashes made a push at the end to cut the deficit to 24-22, but a kill by Bilger earned Ohio the sweep.
The Bobcats return to the floor on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. when Eastern Michigan invades The Convo for a inter-divisional matchup.