ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Volleyball opens the 2011 Mid-American Conference regular season this weekend with matches against Bowling Green and Miami in the Convo.The Bobcats play the undefeated Falcons on MAC Championship Recognition night, Friday at 7 p.m. and then host the rival RedHawks on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the annual Dig Pink match.
Before the contest against BG, there will be a banner ceremony accompanied by a highlight video. The first 500 fans receive a commemorative MAC Championship Trophy replica. The first 300 fans on Saturday will receive a Dig Pink Ohio Volleyball shirt. Campus Involvement will also be collecting funds and auctioning off autographed pink volleyballs.
Ohio is 132-18 in MAC action since 2001 but has losing records against both opponents. The Bobcats are 26-41 against Bowling Green and 24-44 against Miami. Ohio took two of three from Miami last year including a victory for the Green & White in the MAC Tournament that ended the RedHawks' season. The Bobcats have not lost at home to Miami since 2007. Ohio has won five in a row against BG and has not lost a home match to the Falcons since 2001.
Last weekend, the `Cats went 3-1 at the Bash in the Boro Tournament hosted by Georgia Southern. Ohio also earned a mid-week victory at Pitt to run its record to 37-26 against Big East teams and 6-2 during Ryan Theis' tenure.
Ohio led the nation in blocking last season and currently ranks 18th nationally with an average of 2.75 per set. The Bobcats have 36.5 more blocks than the next closest MAC team, Kent State. Bowling Green has the next closest average among MAC schools with 2.18 per set. Senior Katie Post is 11th nationally in blocks per set (1.51) and is a full 27.0 blocks ahead of Kent's Kathy Krupa.
Freshman Kelly Lamberti currently ranks seventh in the conference in kills and points despite missing the last four matches due to injury. Classmate Chelsea Bilger picked up the slack and was named to the all-tournament team last weekend after notching a career-high 20 kills in the win over Georgia State.
Freshman Bailey Karst has split time with Leah Petrovich at setter and currently ranks eighth in the conference in assists while sophomore Mollie Geske has climbed up to fifth in the MAC in digs.
Opponents at a Glance
Bowling Green heads into Mid-American Conference play this weekend as the biggest surprise in the league, opening the year 12-0 after winning just eight matches a year ago. The Falcons' 12-0 start is the best in program history and the 12-match winning streak is the third-longest as well. BG has one of the most talented attacking duos in the MAC in Paige Penrod and Danielle Tonyan. The pair is the only set of teammates in the MAC to both rank in the top 10 in the league in both kills and points. Meanwhile, teammates Emily Kauth and Kari Galen hit with precision from the middle. Galen leads the MAC with a .454 attack percentage and Kauth is fourth at .355. No other set of teammates in the league are hitting at such a high percentage.
Before last week, Miami's Madison Dodd had a career-high of five digs in a match, an accomplishment she achieved four times prior. Over the last four matches, she has been given the opportunity to play more in the back row, and has taken advantage of it by setting a new career high in digs every time. The RedHawks have also receive a boost from the serving line as Amy Kendall currently ranks fifth in the league in aces.
MAC Players of the Week
Katie Post was named the MAC East Offensive Player of the Week on September 19 after guiding the Bobcats to a 3-1 record in the Bash at the Boro and a win at Pitt. This was her first weekly award of the season and fifth for her career.
The senior from Streamwood, Illinois led the Bobcats in kills (49), service aces (6), and blocks (16) at the Bash in the Boro as the 'Cats went 3-1 against a field that featured two other 2010 NCAA Tournament qualifying teams. Post recorded 10 or more kills in every match with a season-high 16 coming in the finale against Presbyterian. She led the team in kills during three matches and in blocking during all four. Post entered the weekend rated ninth in the nation in blocks, and leading the MAC in that category.
Lexie Hartnett had been named the East Division's Defensive Player of the Week on August 30. This was the first weekly honor for Hartnett from the conference. Hartnett, a redshirt sophomore, was named to the Comcast Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Team after leading the squad in blocking with 26, 1.73 per set. Hartnett finished third on the team in kills and points as she notched a career-high 13 kills and nine blocks in the win over Maryland and followed that with 11 kills and eight more blocks in a triumph over Villanova.
Katie Post is one of four Bobcats to earn all-tournament honors during the non-conference portion of the 2011 schedule. The senior led the team with three selections while Lexie Hartnett, Chelsea Bilger and Kelly Lamberti also garnered honors.
Comcast Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament Team: Lexie Hartnett and Katie Post
Kentucky Classic All-Tournament Team: Post
Baymont Invitational All-Tournament Team: Kelly Lamberti
Bash in the Boro All-Tournament Team: Chelsea Bilger and Post
Post and Hartnett named Preseason All-MAC Selections
Senior Katie Post and redshirt sophomore Lexie Hartnett were named to the East Division's Preseason All-MAC Team.
Post, an All-MAC selection last year, finished with Ohio's single-season records for block assists and total blocks with 195, leading the MAC in both categories and finishing seventh in the country in blocks per set. Offensively she finished second on the team in kills behind Sue Jacobi, who set the single-season kills mark last year for the Bobcats. Post ended seventh in the MAC in hitting percentage and points and had 10 or more kills in 20 matches for Ohio. In fact, she had only two matches where she failed to register 10 points or more in 2010.
Hartnett, an All-Freshman choice, finished second in the league in blocks, averaging 1.21 per set, registered at least three blocks in every match last season and notched a career-high 12 in the NCAA Tournament match with Duke. She also finished with 190 kills, racking up a career-best 11 in a home win over rival Miami. She finished with 13 matches where she registered 10 or more points for the Bobcats, including consecutive 11-point matches in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio Picked to Capture MAC East
In a vote by the league's coaches, the Ohio University volleyball team was picked as the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference East Division.
Last season Ohio eclipsed the 20-win mark, captured the East Division title, MAC Tournament title and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. This season the Bobcats face eight NCAA tournament teams from 2010 with their first six opponents having averaged 22 wins last year.
The Bobcats received 11 of the division's 12 first place votes, with rival Miami pegged to finish second. Akron received the remaining first-place vote, but was selected to finish third. Buffalo, Bowling Green and Kent State rounded out the bottom half of the division.
Red, White Blue...and Green
Ohio's Katie Post and Lexie Hartnett attended USA Volleyball's tryouts for the U.S. Women's National Team and women's National A2 Program in Colorado Springs, Colo. Last season, Sue Jacobi, Michelle Jantsch and Post took part in the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team's tryouts and Ellen Herman participated in these tryouts before playing on the women's National A-2 program.
In the first four weeks of the 2011 volleyball season, the Mid-American Conference has made a strong showing. The conference went 25-12 in week one, 27-13 in week two, 25-16 in week three, and 25-15 in week four. Bowling Green, at 12-0, is the only undefeated team left in the conference but there are two other teams (Eastern Michigan at 12-2 and Ball State at 11-2) with just two losses and two more (Northern Illinois at 11-3 and Western Michigan at 10-3) with only three losses. Nine of the 12 teams in the conference have a record above .500.