ATHENS, Ohio – Behind a strong defense and a stellar effort at the net, the No. 20 Ohio University volleyball team (14-2, 4-0 MAC) knocked off East Division rival Bowling Green (6-9, 3-1 MAC) in straight sets (25-17, 25-23, 25-15) Saturday evening inside the Convocation Center.
With the win, Ohio improves to 4-0 in league play for the second time in three seasons, and the team’s 14-2 start matches the program’s best since the 2005 campaign.
In what became a hallmark of Ohio’s home stand, the ‘Cats again held a sizable lead (13-6) in total blocks against the Falcons. Through two matches this weekend, the Green & White held a 28-13 edge in the blocking game. Ohio also knocked down 40 kills to BG’s 34 and hit .278 for the match while limiting the Falcons to a .112 clip – including a .000 mark in the third set.
For the fourth time in five matches, junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) put together a double-double for Ohio, notching 10 kills and 10 digs while adding two service aces against Bowling Green. She was aided at the net by freshman outside hitter Katie Horton (Westland, Mich.), who tallied nine kills and three total blocks. Redshirt junior Liis Kullerkann (Keila, Estonia) added eight kills and five total blocks (one solo) for the ‘Cats.
Sophomore setter Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) contributed a match-high 34 assists and added seven digs, while graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson (Phoenix, Ariz.) tallied eight total blocks and posted four kills, two service aces and hit .500 for the match.
On the back line, freshman libero/outside hitter Mallory Salis (Oak Lawn, Ill.) and sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) each notched 11 digs and a service ace for the ‘Cats. Salis also tallied four kills and hit .333.
Ohio used three kills and a service ace to build a 4-0 lead in the first set before the Falcons stormed back to tie the frame at 8-8. With the score knotted at 10, Ohio used a mini 3-0 run to move ahead 13-10, then extended the advantage to four (20-16) after a Falcons attack error. The lead ballooned to six (22-16) after a service ace from Gilleland and the Bobcats took care of business from there to win the first set, 25-17. Ohio hit .324 as a team in the frame.
Set two proved to be much more of a battle, as the Falcons posted seven of the frame’s first 11 points and led 13-9 after a kill from Lindsey Butterfield. Ohio posted three-straight points – including aces on consecutive serves from Lamberti – to knot the score at 15, but Bowling Green answered back with a 3-0 run to go back up by three (18-15). A kill from Lamberti tied the score once again (20-20) and the teams approached set point tied at 23.
From there, freshman defensive specialist Geneva Yee (Milwaukee, Wis.) subbed in and hammered down a key service ace that set up Ohio set point (24-23). After a BG attack error, Ohio took an exciting second frame, 25-23.
After the break, Ohio jumped out to a 9-5 lead in set three and stayed ahead by three at 13-10. At that point, the Bobcats rattled off six-straight points to build a six-point advantage (19-10) and Ohio increased that lead to 10 to win the third set, 25-15.
The match served as Ohio’s annual “Dig Pink” night. During Coach Theis’ six seasons in Athens, the Bobcats have raised more than $10,000 for breast cancer awareness in partnership with the Side-Out Foundation.
No. 20 Ohio now hits the road for a pair of MAC matches next week. The Bobcats play at East Division rival Kent State (8-9, 2-2) Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling to Ypsilanti, Mich., to battle Eastern Michigan (11-7, 1-2) Saturday at 7 p.m.