GENEVA, Ohio - The top-seeded Ohio University volleyball team (26-4) will play for the MAC Tournament crown after knocking off No. 5 seed Northern Illinois (19-13) in straight sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) Saturday afternoon in semifinal action at the SPIRE Institute.
The Bobcats will battle the winner of No. 6 Western Michigan/No. 7 Eastern Michigan on Sunday at 1 p.m. (TWC/ESPN3) with hopes of claiming the program's eighth MAC Tournament Championship.
Saturday's win was Ohio's 10th-straight and marked the fourth-consecutive sweep for the Bobcats. The Green & White have won their last 13 sets.
Despite NIU holding advantages in digs (61-52) and blocks (8-3) in the match, Ohio limited Northern Illinois to a .162 hitting clip and knocked down 45 kills to grab the straight set victory.
Sophomore middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.) and freshman outside hitter Katie Horton (Westland, Mich.) each registered a team-high 10 kills on the afternoon, while sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) led the Ohio back row with 18 digs (6.0/set) and added two aces.
Freshman defensive specialist/libero Brooke Coleman (Plano, Texas) also played well for Ohio with 12 digs and two aces. Many of Ohio's point runs in the match came with Coleman at the helm of the Bobcat service game.
Sophomore setter Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) added a match-high 34 assists and chipped in five kills and an ace against the Huskies.
The two teams played to a 12-12 tie in the opening set, before Ohio rattle off four-straight points behind two aces from freshman defensive specialist/setter Brooke Coleman (Plano, Texas). NIU moved back within two at 18-16 and took a one-point lead at 21-20 after completing an 8-2 surge. But Ohio raced back with five of the last six points on the set to win the frame, 25-22.
Ohio held an early 11-9 lead in set two and extended the cushion to five at 17-12. A kill from Gilleland made it 19-13 Ohio, but NIU cut it to three at 20-17, then rattled off a 4-0 run to move within one (23-22). But a kill from Kullerkann put Ohio back up two and the Bobcats took the set on a kill from Bull (25-22).
The Huskies jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set, before the Bobcats put together a 5-0 run to go ahead by two at 11-9. NIU responded with a 3-0 run to re-take the lead at 17-15 and remained in front by two at 19-17. From there, an ace from Gilleland tied the score at 19 and a solo block from Pinson moved Ohio in front by one at 23-22. The Bobcats won two of the final three points of the set to win it (25-23) and capture the match victory.
With the win, Ohio improves to 8-0 in neutral site contests this season.