Nov. 16, 2007
TOLEDO, Ohio - -
The No. 15 Ohio volleyball team opened its quest for a fifth-straight Mid-American Conference Tournament title with a 3-1 (30-23, 26-30, 30-25, 30-25) victory against Northern Illinois Friday evening in the tournament quarterfinals at the SeaGate Centre. The top-seeded Bobcats used a complete team effort to defeat the eighth-seeded Huskies, as four Bobcats recorded double-digit kills in the win.
Ohio senior co-captains Melissa Griffin (Whitehall, Mich.) and Stephanie Blackburn (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the way with 21 kills and 15 kills, respectively. Also with double-digit kills for Ohio was sophomore outside hitter Ellen Herman (Toledo, Ohio) with 13 kills (.139) and sophomore middle blocker Meghan Simons (Lancaster, Ohio) with 13 kills (.522).
After taking a 2-1 lead through the first three games, Ohio came from behind in the fourth game to edge NIU, 30-25, to take the match 3-1. NIU led the Bobcats 14-11 and then 22-19, when Ohio Head Coach Geoff Carlston called a timeout. The timeout proved useful as Ohio scored 11 of the final 14 points to win the match.
For the match, Ohio (24-4) out-hit Northern Illinois (14-18) .306 to .185 and landed 76 kills to NIU's 58.
In the opening game the two teams exchanged points with Northern Illinois eventually taking an 18-16 lead. Ohio finally responded and took control of the game with a 10-0 run to take a 26-18 lead. The closest the Huskies got the rest of the way was 28-22 and the Ohio went on to win 30-23. Ohio out-hit Northern Illinois .341 to .094 in the game. Griffin connected on six kills and Simons posted five kills on six swings for the Bobcats.
In the second game the two teams once again went back and fourth, this time with Northern Illinois edging the Bobcats in the final 10 points. Tied at 20-20, Northern Illinois closed the game on a 10-6 run to take the game 30-26 and tie the match 1-1. The Huskies hit .415 in the game, while holding Ohio to a .286 hitting percentage. Herman paced Ohio with nine kills in the game.
Ohio fell behind 5-1 in game three, but ran off the next seven points to take an 8-5 lead. NIU cut the deficit to one point at 12-11, but the Bobcats held on to the lead, scoring the next three points, to take a 15-11 lead. Ohio gained a seven point advantage at 25-18, when NIU mounted one last comeback. The Huskies trimmed the lead to 28-25 before a kill from Herman and an attack error on Northern Illinois gave Ohio the 30-25 win and a 2-1 advantage.
Blackburn posted her 14th double-double of the season, adding 20 digs to go with her 15 kills (.297). Simons had a solid all-around performance for Ohio, recording a match-high eight blocks in addition to her 13 kills.
Freshman setter Michelle Jantsch (Mission Hills, Kansas) had a team-high 40 assists for Ohio, while freshman Melissa Szkutnik (Perrysburg, Ohio) totaled eight kills and hit .615.
Northern Illinois got an outstanding performance from setter Mandi Caputo, who finished with a match-high 21 digs and 52 assists. Meagan Schoenrock led the Huskies' attack with 14 kills on a .212 hitting percentage.
Ohio now plays No. 5 Kent State in the semifinals at the SeaGate Centre on Saturday. The match is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. In the other semifinal match-up, No. 3 Miami will take the court against No. 7 Eastern Michigan.
Wes Liles is the volleyball contact in the Ohio media relations office. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.