Nov. 25, 2011
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Ohio Volleyball strengthened its case for a NCAA at-large bid with a 21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 27-29, 15-13 five-set thriller over Cincinnati on Friday afternoon.
Coming into the match, Cincinnati owned the No. 18 RPI in the nation and had just won the Big East championship. The Bearcats also owned the longest home winning streak in the nation, a span of 48 matches over the past five seasons.
Kelly Lamberti notched career-bests of 24 kills and 24 digs to lead the Bobcats, hitting .323 in the process. Classmate Chelsea Bilger recorded another double-double with a career-high 20 kills and 13 digs.
Katie Post showed that she didn't want this to be her final match in the Green & White with 15 kills (.481 hitting percentage) The senior also tied the Ohio record for block assists in a career with 436 (Laura Hageman (2000-03).
Mollie Geske and Nicole Staverman combined for 29 digs with Bailey Karst (40 assists) and Leah Petrovich (18 assists) handling the setting for the Bobcats.
The first set was tied 10-10 and after a dual block by Robins and Hartnett, Ohio only trailed 16-15. However, the Bearcats scored the next four points to open up a five-point advantage. An ace by Karst made things interesting at 22-20 but the Bobcats could not come all the way back and fell, 25-21. Lamberti paced the Ohio attack with five kills in the first set.
Ohio erased a three-point deficit in the second set to even things 12-12 before consecutive kills by UC forced a timeout. Trailing 16-13, Ohio scored three of the next four points on kills by Bilger, Post and Faith Robins to pull within one. The Bobcats were still behind 18-16 when another three-point run gave them a lead.
Petrovich and Post combined on a block, Bilger served an ace and Lamberti gave the Green & White a 19-18 lead. Ohio saw a two-point lead vanish but quickly regained it at 23-21 on another Lamberti kill. With a chance to even the set, Ohio let a three-point lead slip away before Lamberti notched her 11th kill and Robins combined with Lexie Hartnett on a block to even the match, 26-24. Bilger also added five kills in the set while Karst notched 11 assists and Ohio hit a match-best .378
In the third set, a kill by Hartnett gave Ohio its largest lead at 18-13 but UC scored the next four points to close the gap to one. The Bobcats would push the lead back to three at 22-19 and Lamberti notched the final three kills of the set to bring her total to 19 and give Ohio a 2-1 lead in the match. The freshman had eight of Ohio's 15 kills in the set.
Cincinnati started the fourth set with a 5-3 lead. Ohio then gained momentum and after a UC attack error, led 13-11. The Bearcats would tie things up at 17. The Bobcats were able to retake the lead at 23-22 after another Bearcat error. Ohio had four match point-tries, but the Bearcats were able to stave off elimination and win the set, 29-27. Bilger had eight of Ohio's 17 kills in the stanza with Karst racking up 14 assists.
Just like the rest of the match, the fifth and final set started very even with the teams trading points. With the set tied 4-4, the Bearcats rattled off five-consecutive points to seemingly put the match out of reach. However, Ohio scored eight of the next 11 points and evened things 12-12 on a Cincy attack error. Trailing 13-12, Ohio got successive kills from Bilger, Post and Lamberti to shock the Bearcats in the fifth set and win the match.
Ohio will now wait and see if it gets an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The selection show will be Sunday, November 27 at 6 p.m.