Sept. 26, 2013
Friday at Buffalo - 7 p.m. (Live Stats | Live Video)
Saturday at Akron - 5 p.m. (Live Stats | Live Video)
ATHENS, Ohio - The No. 22 Ohio University volleyball team (10-2) will begin the defense of its 2012 MAC regular season championship this weekend when it opens league play on the road.
Ohio kicks off the MAC schedule with a match at Buffalo (12-1) Friday at 7 p.m. The Bobcats then travel to Akron for a 5 p.m. matchup Saturday inside James A. Rhodes Arena.
Ohio has posted a 65-15 league record in Ryan Theis' five years at the helm, including a 27-5 mark over the past two seasons. Under Theis, the Bobcats have won two MAC regular season championships and three league tournament titles.
The Green & White are 10-2 for the first time since 2002 after posting a 2-1 record at last weekend's Michigan Invitational. Ohio also opened the season 10-1 for the first time since 1995. The Bobcats have won 34 of 43 sets during the 2013 season.
Ohio moved up to No. 22 in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week after entering the rankings at No. 24 on Sept. 16. The Bobcats are ranked for the 45th week in program history and for the first season since 2007.
Last weekend in Ann Arbor,Ohio finished second after posting victories over Maryland (3-0) and Marshall (3-1) and falling in five sets to No. 10 Michigan.
Setter Abby Gilleland (Bull Valley, Ill.) and middle blocker Karin Bull (Bloomington, Minn.) garnered Michigan Invitational All-Tournament honors. Bull averaged 2.7 points, 2.1 kills and 1.1 blocks per set while hitting a team-high .373 over the three matches, while Gilleland averaged 9.8 assists and 2.9 digs per set while contributing seven total blocks and three service aces.
Graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson notched 11 kills while hitting a resounding .786 vs. Marshall on Sept. 20. It marked the third-highest single-match hitting percentage in school history and the best since Katie Post hit .846 vs. Miami in 2009.
Behind a season-high 21 kills on Sept. 21 at No. 10 Michigan, junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) moved past Katie Post (2008-11) and into eighth place on Ohio's all-time kills list. Lamberti now has 984 career kills. She also added 15 digs vs. the Wolverines and now has five double-doubles on the year.
The Bobcats won two of their four pre-season tournaments in 2013. Ohio claimed the Oregon Classic and WKU Invitational crowns and finished second at the Baymont Inn Invitational and the Michigan Invitational.
SCOUTING THE BULLS (12-1, 0-0 MAC)
Buffalo opened the season with 12-straight wins before No. 13 Ohio State dropped the Bulls (3-0) to close out the White and Blue Classic on Sept. 21. After being picked to finish fourth in the MAC East, the Bulls are looking to prove themselves against the No. 22 Bobcats. Buffalo features three seniors from the state of Ohio with Dani Reinart, Kelly Svoboda and Christine Fritsche all hailing from the Buckeye State. Reinert, the setter, is pacing the offense with 6.76 assists per set.
The offense also features two outside hitters with more than 100 kills on the year. Sophomore Tahleia Bishop leads the team with 3.29 kills per set (sixth in MAC) while Fritsche is averaging 3.13. Libero Svoboda leads the MAC with 5.79 digs per set. Middle blockers Amber Hatchett and Carissa Mckenna rank No. 1 and 2 in the league in blocks/set (1.54; 1.38). Ohio leads the all-time series 29-2, including two three-set victories during the 2012-2013 season.
SCOUTING THE ZIPS (6-5, 0-0 MAC)
The Zips were picked to finish fifth in the MAC East in the preseason and have posted a 6-5 mark in 2013. Akron is being paced offensively by freshman setter Karley Kusan, who has tallied 7.54 assists per set. Alex Cocklin, a senior outside hitter, ranks eighth in the league with 3.21 kills per set and sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Wilson is hitting at a team-high .284 clip.
Defensively, senior defensive specialist Jill Paluch has racked up 4.21 digs/set while Wilson is averaging 0.68 blocks per set. The Zips open conference play against Kent State on Friday before hosting the Bobcats on Saturday. Ohio leads the all-time series 32-23 and has won five-straight over the Zips.
After playing 11 of its first 14 matches on the road, Ohio returns to the Convo for two matches next weekend. The ‘Cats host rival Miami (8-4) Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. before wrapping up the homestand Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. vs. preseason MAC favorite Bowling Green (3-8).