ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Volleyball moved to the top of the MAC standings with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Northern Illinois this evening, 15-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-15. The Bobcats won their eighth match in a row and fifth-straight against a MAC West foe.
"I thought we showed reslience and fight but didn't execute in the second set," Head Coach Ryan Theis said. "Then in the third set, we started to execute and that made all the difference. Our seniors, Lexie, Leah and Faith did an excellent job for us tonight, creating momentum and sustaining rallies."
Leah Petrovich paced Ohio with 28 assists and freshman Abby Gilleland also added 16 helpers. Meredith Ashy led the Green and White in digs with 24 and sophomore Serena Warner topped the team with five blocks. On the night, the Bobcats finished with 10 team blocks and hit .237 over the final three sets.
Ohio led 5-4 in the first set but then lost eight of the next 10 points. Trailing 14-11 the Bobcats then relinquished eight of the next nine points and fell behind 22-12. NIU wound up hitting .387 as it rolled to a 25-15 win in the first frame.
The Green and White found themselves in hot water after it fell behind 5-1 to start the next set. Trailing 17-13, Ohio ran off three points in a row and a Lamberti ace forced a Husky timeout. A block by Robins would eventually draw the `Cats even at 21-21.
Ohio went ahead on an attack error at 24-23 and NIU used its second timeout. After the Huskies tied the score, Bilger notched consecutive kills to even the match, 26-24. She and Lamberti combined for 10 of the `Cats' 15 kills in the second set.
The Bobcats led 12-7 in the third set before the visitors scored five in a row to even the score. Ohio went on to score five of the next six points to gain a 17-13 advantage, forcing a NIU timeout. After the Huskies cut the gap to one, a service error followed by a Lamberti ace made the score 20-17.
NIU eventually evened the score once more at 21-21 but consecutive kills for Lamberti pushed the Bobcats ahead by two. After a Husky kill, Warner notched a kill then combined on a block with Lamberti to put Ohio ahead in the match, 2-1. Hartnett was a big factor for the Bobcats in the frame, notching five kills on seven swings.
Ohio dominated the fourth and final set from the jump, scoring eight of the first 10 points. NIU got within three points on two occasions but the Bobcats were never really threatened. The Green and White scored the final four points of the set to win 25-15 and take the match.
The Bobcats hit a match-best .325 in the final set with Robins and Lamberti combining for 10 kills, five apiece. Ohio's defense was also strong down the stretch as it held NIU to a .088 attack percentage and picked up eight blocks over the last two sets.
It will be a battle of MAC division leaders tomorrow as the Bobcats host Western Michigan tomorrow night at 7 p.m.