LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Ohio University volleyball team (27-6) saw an outstanding season come to an end Saturday afternoon, as the Bobcats fell to 20th-ranked Michigan State (22-11) in straight sets (21-25, 22-25, 19-25) in NCAA First Round action at Memorial Coliseum.
The Bobcats and Spartans drew almost even in a number of statistical categories and Ohio won the dig battle, 42-39. But Michigan State held advantages in blocking (11.0-2.0) and hitting percentage (.250-.190) to build their advantage in the match.
“I’m really proud of our team and the season we’ve had,” head coach Ryan Theis said. “It’s been a whole lot of fun and they’ve played their hearts out through injuries all year. Hats off to Michigan State, and we hope to be back next year.”
Freshman outside hitter Katie Horton (Westland, Mich.) knocked down a team-high 12 kills and added eight digs to lead the Ohio offensive effort, while junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) added 10 kills and four digs on the afternoon. Sophomore middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.) chipped in eight kills and hit a team-high .583 for the `Cats.
Sophomore Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) notched a match-high 35 assists and totaled eight digs from the setter position, while sophomore libero Meredith Ashy (Louisville, Ky.) added a team-high 11 digs from the back row.
Middle blocker Alexis Pinson (Phoenix, Ariz.) finished her graduate year with the Bobcats by posting five kills and adding two block assists. The two blocks moved her into second on Ohio's all-time single season block assists list (150) and solo fourth in total blocks in a season (163).
“We fell a little short today, but I’m so proud of the season we had and so grateful for this experience,” Pinson said in the post-game press conference.
Ohio raced out to an 11-7 lead in the first set, but a 4-0 run by the Spartans knotted the score at 11. Michigan State took its first lead of the set at 15-14 and extended its edge to four at 19-15. Ohio raced back with a 4-0 run to move within one (20-19), but Michigan State three of the next four points to build a three-point edge (23-20) it would not relinquish. The Spartans took the first frame, 25-21.
Michigan State jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the second set and extended that edge to six at 13-7. With MSU leading by five (14-9), Ohio put together a 5-2 run - capped by a huge block from Horton and Pinson - to move back within two at 16-14. The Spartans pulled back in front by five at 24-19, and Ohio staved off set point with four-straight to cut the edge to two (24-22). But MSU posted the next point to take the frame, 25-22.
The two teams battled back and forth in the third set, and the score remained tied midway through the frame at 15-15. From there, MSU posted two in a row to build a 17-15 edge, then moved ahead by four at 21-17. The Spartans hung on to win the frame, 25-19, and take the match.
Ohio is now 5-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament action. The Bobcats finish the season with a 9-1 record in neutral site contests.