Oct. 26, 2013
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - In one of the most balanced and gutsy efforts of the season, the Ohio University volleyball team (18-4, 8-2) fought past Western Michigan (13-10, 6-4) in five sets (25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 25-17, 15-8) Saturday evening at University Arena.
Trailing two sets to one, the Bobcats rallied to win the final three sets of the contest to keep pace with Ball State for the top spot in the MAC standings. With the victory, Ohio completed the two-match road sweep of Northern Illinois and Western Michigan for the first time since the 2007 season.
"It was a huge team effort tonight," head coach Ryan Theis said. "To get two of these last three league matches, it really puts us back in the hunt for the MAC title."
The `Cats held advantages in all major stat categories in the contest, including kills (72-62), digs (94-83) and a +7 edge in blocking (15-8). Ohio hit .235 and held WMU to a .182 clip, marking the ninth time in 10 matches in which the `Cats have limited their league opponent to under .200 hitting.
The `Cats hit progressively better over the final three sets, capped by a blistering .458 clip in the crucial fifth set.
"Our balance was terrific throughout the first three games, we just weren't scoring," head coach Ryan Theis said. "Then we started heating up and got our offense going we needed that."
Freshman outsider hitter/libero Mallory Salis (Oak Lawn, Ill.) put together an excellent all-around performance for Ohio, notching her second double-double in the past three contests from the back row. Salis finished with a career-best 12 kills to go along with 10 digs and two service aces.
From the setter position, sophomore Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) tallied career highs in assists (56) and digs (22) to go along with nine kills and a .400 hitting percentage.
Sophomore middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.) notched a career-best 14 kills and hit .520 for the match, while freshman Katie Horton added 11 kills and a career-best eight total blocks (including two solo) to lead the `Cats at the net.
Fellow middle blocker Alexis Pinson (Phoenix, Ariz.) added five total blocks and knocked down 13 kills while hitting .393, and redshirt junior Liis Kullerkann (Keila, Estonia) added 10 kills for the Ohio offense.
Sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) led all players with 25 digs on the night, while freshman Brooke Coleman (Plano, Texas) added a career-best 17 for the 'Cats.
The Bobcats held an early 6-3 lead in set one, before WMU rallied to tie the score at 9-9. The Broncos then moved in front by as many as three (17-14), but Ohio answered with a 3-0 run to knot the score at 17. From there, a kill from Salis gave Ohio a one-point lead (18-17) and another kill - this time from Horton - extended the cushion to three (22-19). The Green & White hung on to take set one, 25-22.
Bull notched five kills in the frame and hit .556 on nine attempts.
Ohio posted six of the first 10 points of set two, then used a 3-0 run to build a four-point cushion at 11-7. WMU moved back within one at 14-13, but the `Cats again took advantage of a 3-0 run to go back up by four at 17-13. From there, WMU used a 4-0 run to tie up the set (17-17), then moved in front by two at 23-21. Ohio cut the lead to one on a block from Pinson, but WMU closed out the set to win it by three at 25-22.
The Broncos galloped out to a 9-5 lead in set three and Ohio played catch up for the early portion of the frame. The `Cats posted four of the next five points to tie it up at 10-10, but WMU came back with two in a row to make it 12-10. A kill from Kullerkann drew Ohio even at 13-13, and the score remained tied at 17 after a kill from Gilleland.
From there, WMU used a 6-1 run to build a 23-18 lead, but Ohio raced right back with four straight to cut the lead to one at 23-22. WMU then stopped the run with the final two points of the set to take it, 25-22.
Ohio notched five of the first six points of set four and led 7-2 after a solo block from Horton. WMU cut the lead to three at 13-10, but Ohio extended its advantage to six (19-13) on a kill from Salis. The Green & White built their largest lead (22-14) on a block from Bull and Horton, then hung on to win the set by that margin (25-17).
The Bobcats put together a key 6-2 run to begin the fifth set, then stayed in front by three (7-4) after a kill from Kullerkann. Ohio extended its edge to four on a cross-court kill from Bull (10-6), then closed out the match on a 5-2 run to earn the important road victory.
Ohio returns to action next weekend with two return matches against MAC East foes at the Convo. The Bobcats host Akron on Friday (Nov. 1) at 7 p.m. before taking on Buffalo Saturday (Nov. 2) at 7 p.m.