Nov. 23, 2008
Click here to visit the Interviews section of the Bobcat Broadcast Booth, where Russ Eisenstein had a chance to visit with juniors Ellen Herman and Sarah Petrulis about the Bobcats' fifth MAC Tournament title in the last six years.
TOLEDO, Ohio - Junior outside hitter Ellen Herman led all players with 20 kills and junior libero Sarah Petrulis matched her career high with 25 digs as the Ohio University volleyball team defeated Western Michigan, 3-1 (17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-23), on Sunday to win its fifth-ever Mid-American Conference Tournament championship.
The victory also granted the Bobcats an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship, where the Green & White will make its sixth-straight appearance. At the conclusion of the match, Herman (Toledo, Ohio) and Petrulis (Westlake, Ohio) were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team, with the former becoming the fifth player in school history to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
The championship run also made Ohio head coach Ryan Theis just the second floor general in school history to win the MAC Tournament in his initial year on the Bobcat sidelines.
"This is one of those special moments that college athletics is all about," Theis said. "This team set a goal for itself, and it was undeterred in accomplishing that goal. I can't even begin to fathom the amount of heart and determination this team has shown. It honestly hasn't sunk in yet."
Herman's 20 kills on the day propelled her into third place on Ohio's single-season chart with 481, just one behind her own second-place mark of 482 from the 2006 season. Her kill total also gave her 20.0 points on the afternoon, moving her past Katie Mullen for 10th place on the program's single-season points chart. The MAC Player of the Year also ripped off 17 digs to secure her second-consecutive double-double, and her 12th of the campaign.
Sophomore Sue Jacobi (Louisville, Ky.) provided an offensive spark for the Bobcats for the second match in a row, finishing with 13 kills on .273 hitting. She also chipped in with five digs - one shy of her season high - and a pair of blocks to earn 14.5 points. Junior middle blocker Jane Sytsma (Madison, Wis.) reached 11 kills on the day to give Ohio three players in double figures, while senior opposite hitter Amanda Andersen (Lino Lakes, Minn.) added seven and junior middle blocker Meghan Simons (Lancaster, Ohio) had a half dozen.
Sophomore setter Michelle Jantsch (Mission Hills, Kan.) dished out a match-high 51 assists to guide Ohio to a 64-54 edge in the kills department, moving into sixth place on Ohio's career assists chart and 10th place on the program's single-season list. She also fired three of the Bobcats' four service aces on the day, and helped out with a block assist to finish with 5.5 points.
Petrulis' career-best effort in the back row was a catalyst to victory, as Ohio out-dug WMU by a count of 85-75. She had 12 digs during the second set, when Ohio earned a come-from-behind victory to change the momentum of the match. The 25-dig performance marked the fourth time this season that Petrulis has collected at least 20 in a match, as well as her team-best 24th double-figure match. In addition to Herman's 17, sophomore defensive specialist Meryl Bender (Yorktown, Ind.) collected 12 digs and senior defensive specialist Molly Mangan (Claire, Ill.) added 11 on the day.
Simons got off to a quick start on Sunday, recording the Bobcats' first three kills of the afternoon as the teams split the first 10 points. A seven-point run by the Broncos prompted Ohio to use a timeout with the score at 18-12, and the Bobcats responded with a three-point streak of its own to narrow the gap to three. Andersen and Herman contributed kills down the stretch, but the first set slipped away from the Bobcats by a score of 25-17. Herman and Simons combined for six of Ohio's 12 kills in the opening frame, while Petrulis led the way on defense with five first-set digs.
Herman's sixth kill of the afternoon gave Ohio a 12-8 lead early in set two, but the Bobcats were forced to call a timeout after WMU took the next three rallies to cut the gap to one. Western Michigan fought back to take a two-point lead at 17-15, but the Green & White took two-straight points to level the score. Consecutive kills from Madison gave Ohio a 21-20 edge, and after the Broncos took the next point to knot the score, Herman fired back-to-back rockets down the seam to put the Bobcats in front by two, 23-21, and force Western Michigan into a timeout. Ohio used its second timeout of the set after WMU tied the score at 23-23, and the Bobcats came charging out of the break, getting a kill from Herman and a service ace by Jantsch to capture the second set, 25-23. Herman registered eight kills on .350 hitting in the frame, and Petrulis added a dozen digs out of the back row to pace the Ohio defense.
Freshman opposite hitter Katie Post (Streamwood, Ill.) followed consecutive Ohio blocks with a kill off the WMU block touch to propel the Green & White to a 10-5 lead in the early stages of set three, forcing the Broncos to burn their first timeout. Western Michigan was compelled to use its second timeout of the stanza just minutes later, as Jacobi and Andersen tallied kills and a WMU attack error pushed Ohio's run to 6-0 and its lead to 13-5. The Bobcats used a timeout after Western Michigan narrowed the gap to two points at 21-19, and the Green & White responded with a pair of kills from Andersen before Herman delivered the set-clincher to give Ohio a 25-22 set-three win. Herman and Jacobi both battled their way to five kills in the frame, while Post picked up a pair of block assists to lead the Ohio charge at the net.
Jantsch reeled off back-to-back service aces on her first turn at the line in set four, forcing WMU to call timeout with Ohio on top by four points, 9-5. After Western Michigan came back to knot the score at 10-10, Jacobi killed an overpass to spark a 3-0 Ohio run and push the Green & White to a 13-10 edge. Post followed a Jantsch kill with consecutive terminations of her own to spur Ohio to a 20-15 lead, prompting the Broncos to burn their second timeout of the frame. After Western Michigan battled back to take a 22-21 lead, the Bobcats flipped the advantage by way of a WMU service error and a kill by Jacobi. After Sytsma rifled a ball off the Bronco block to set up match point, Ohio forced Western Michigan into an attack error, clinching its fifth MAC Tournament crown in the last six years by a score of 25-23.
Ohio will host Dayton on Friday to wrap up its regular season before awaiting its NCAA Tournament assignment. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and live stats will be available via ohiobobcats.com.