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Volleyball Upended By Ball State In Five Sets

Meredith Ashy had a career night for Ohio against the Cardinals.

Oct. 19, 2013

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ATHENS, Ohio – Despite an excellent defensive effort on the back line and at the net, the Ohio University volleyball team (16-4, 6-2) could not knock off MAC West-leading Ball State (19-4, 7-1), as the Cardinals edged the Bobcats in five sets (21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-13, 10-15) Saturday evening inside the Convocation Center.

Ohio notched a season-best 94 digs against the No. 1 killing offense in the MAC and held a commanding 21-10 advantage in total blocks. But Ball State stepped up at crucial times, including a fifth set in which the team hit .381, to capture the five-set victory.

“Momentum didn’t seem to carry from game-to-game tonight,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “I thought we got things rolling in the third set and were playing well, but we hit a stumbling block with an injury to Kelly Lamberti. I thought if we stole that one we’d be in good shape. But we played well in four and in five, you throw the numbers away. Ball State made a couple more plays then we did to win.”

Sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) notched career bests in digs (31), assists (9) and service aces (3) to lead Ohio on the back line, while freshman outside hitter/libero stepped up in wake of the Lamberti injury to notch her first-career double-double with 16 digs and a career-best 12 kills.

Freshman outside hitter Katie Horton (Westland, Mich.) also posted double-digit kills for Ohio (12) and hit at a solid .323 clip, while sophomore middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.) notched nine kills and a career-best 12 total blocks to pace Ohio at the net.

Graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson (Phoenix, Ariz.) chipped in nine kills and six total blocks for the Bobcats, while sophomore setter Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) recorded her third-straight double-double with a match-high 42 assists, 13 digs, seven kills and a career-best eight total blocks.

Ball State took an early 14-10 lead in set one and extended the advantage to six (19-13) after an Ohio attack error. The Bobcats marched back to cut the lead to two at 23-21 on a kill from Salis, but the Cardinals would go on to take set one, 25-21.

In set two, Ohio put the pedal to the medal, racing out to a 12-4 lead. From there, Ohio stayed in front by eight (16-8) after a kill from Horton and extended the advantage to 11 (22-11) after an attack error from Ball State. Consecutive kills from Horton closed out the set, as Ohio won it, 25-17.

In set three, the teams played to a 12-12 tie, before Ball State used a 3-0 run to take a 16-13 lead. At that point, the Bobcats used a 6-1 run to take a 19-17 lead. After Lamberti left the court with an injury, Ohio battled to stay in front by two at 20-18, but Ball State took the lead at 23-22 and went on to win the frame, 25-22.

The Bobcats regained their form in set four with another strong start to the set. Ohio jumped out to a 10-4 lead and led by 10 (15-5) after a power kill from Salis from the back line. Ohio completed a 10-2 run to build a strong 14-point lead (20-6) late in the set, then held on to take the frame, 25-13.

Both teams battled in the fifth and final set, as the score was tied at 8-8 midway through the frame. At that point, Ball State put together a crucial run of 6-1 to build a 14-9 lead. The surge would help BSU ultimately claim the fifth set, 15-10, and win the match.

Ohio’s 94 digs were its most in a match since Aug. 27, 2011, when Ohio notched 108 in a five-set match against Villanova.

The Bobcats now hit the road for a pair of MAC West road matches next weekend. Ohio will play at Northern Illinois on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. before matching up with Western Michigan Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kalamazoo, Mich.