GENEVA, Ohio - The top-seeded Ohio University volleyball team (27-4) capped off a stellar 2013 MAC Tournament with a 3-0 victory over EMU (18-16) in the championship match Sunday to claim the program's eighth MAC Tournament title.
The Bobcats did not drop a set in any of the team's three matches, marking the first time since the 2010 Bobcat title that a MAC Tournament Champion has swept all three contests in the event.
The championship victory was Ohio's 11th-straight and the fifth-consecutive 3-0 sweep by the Bobcats. With the win, Ohio will claim the Mid-American Conference automatic berth in the 2013 NCAA Championship.
"Through injuries and adversity, this has been such a good group all season," head coach Ryan Theis said. "They're so passionate about winning, it's a lot of fun to watch."
After a superb Sunday effort in which she registered 19 digs (6.3/set), sophomore libero Meredith Ashy earned MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. The Louisville, Ky., native averaged 5.1 digs/set over the tournament's three matches and provided a spark for Ohio in its service game.
"Meredith's been amazing for us all season," redshirt junior right side Liis Kullerkann (Keila, Estonia) said. "I'm so glad she got the MVP award. She deserves it so much."
Junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) also garnered all-tournament accolades, and capped off her weekend with 16 kills, seven digs and a .455 hitting percentage against the Eagles.
Ohio hit an impressive .370 as a team in the championship match and held EMU to a .198 clip from the floor. The Green & White have limited 17 of their 19 MAC opponents to under .200 hitting this season.
Ohio also held a 63-38 edge in total points in the match and posted a +12 advantage in digs (59-47) behind Ashy's superb effort.
Kullerkann shredded the EMU defense throughout the match and finished with a career-high 15 kills while hitting at a blistering .667 clip.
Ohio's hitters were put in position to succeed all day behind a strong performance from sophomore setter Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.). The 2013 MAC Player of the Year registered 41 assists in just three sets (13.7/set) while recording 11 digs to post another double-double for Ohio this season.
The Bobcats jumped out to a 11-5 lead in the opening set and extended the cushion to nine (15-6) on a kill from Pinson. EMU moved within six at 20-14, but Ohio came back with kills from Pinson and Gilleland to bump the lead back up to eight at 22-14. The Bobcats closed the set on a 5-1 run to take the frame, 25-15.
Ohio grabbed an early 8-5 lead in set two and led by five (14-9) after a 5-0 run that was punctuated by a Pinson ace. Ohio extended its advantage to eight (23-15) on a kill from Lamberti and hung on to take the second set, 25-18.
The Bobcats jumped out to an 11-7 lead in the third set, but Eastern Michigan moved within two at 14-12. Ohio used a 3-0 run to extend its lead to seven (23-16) and notched the championship point on a kill from sophomore middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.). Ohio won the final frame, 25-19.
With the victory, Ohio can now claim both the MAC regular season championship and the MAC Tournament title for just the sixth time in school history.
The Bobcats move to 9-0 in neutral site contests this season and 16-0 in three set matches in 2013.
Ohio wraps up the 2013 regular season with a non-conference matchup at Atlantic 10 foe Virginia Commonwealth (25-7, 11-3) next Saturday (Nov. 30) at 5 p.m. in Richmond, Va.