By Mike Ashcraft
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Ohio volleyball team (6-6) opened the Penn State Classic with a victory in the first set but ultimately fell to Wake Forest (8-2), 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-19), on Friday (Sept. 15) at Rec Hall.
The Bobcats could not overcome 59 total errors and a Demon Deacons' squad that outblocked them, 13.5-6.0.
"Our team put forth good effort on defense, but we missed too many routine plays," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb.
Four kills by sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) and four kills and two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) by freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) helped guide Ohio to a four-point victory over Wake Forest in the opening set. The Bobcats erased a 14-12 deficit with a 6-2 run to grab an 18-16 advantage, utilizing a double block by freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) and Jimerson, a kill by Jimerson, two kills by Stephens and a double block by sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) and Stephens. The Demon Deacons took advantage of a service error and an attack error by the Bobcats to even the set score, but Ohio took a 1-0 lead by closing the victory out with a 7-3 run. Three kills by redshirt senior middle blocker Ali Lake (Liberty Township, Ohio) and two by Jimerson powered the Bobcats down the stretch.
After hitting -.037 in the first set, Wake Forest bounced back in the second by hitting at a .243 clip with 14 kills en route to a four-point victory to even things up. Senior outside hitter Kylie Long led the Demon Deacons with four kills while sophomore middle blocker Caitlyn Della added three more. Ohio opened the set by jumping out to an 8-5 lead after two kills apiece from Stephens and Jimerson, a kill by Lake and a service ace by Stephens, forcing Wake Forest to call timeout. A double block by Stephens and Januszewski, kills by Januszewski, Lake and Jimerson and a solo block by junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) helped make it 15-12 in favor of the Bobcats. The Demon Deacons wrestled control of the set away from Ohio, though, and closed out the win with a 13-6 run. Three kills by Long and two kills apiece by junior middle blocker Katie Moore and freshman middle blocker Caroline Kuhn helped Wake Forest clinch the set victory.
Wake Forest grabbed a 2-1 lead in the match by rolling to an eight-point victory in the third set. The Demon Deacons limited Ohio to a -.027 hitting percentage with just seven kills in the third set. Long added five more kills to her total while Moore added five assisted blocks. After taking a 15-8 lead on an Ohio service error, Wake Forest never led by less than seven points the rest of the way.
Ohio never led in the fourth set and trailed by as many as eight at several points. Kuhn helped the Demon Deacons nail down the win with three kills and three total blocks (one solo, two assisted) while Della chipped in two kills and two assisted blocks. Wake Forest took advantage of 11 attack errors by the Bobcats.
"We struggled with unforced errors as the match extended beyond the second set," said Webb, who saw his team commit 34 attack errors, 16 service errors, four reception errors and five blocking errors.
Stephens led the match with 15 kills and tallied a team-high two service aces for Ohio. She also had two assisted blocks, an assist and six digs. Jimerson nearly recorded a double-double with 13 kills and nine errors. She hit .375 (13 kills-four errors-24 total attacks) for the match. Jimerson also posted two total blocks (one solo, one assisted). Lake hit at a .412 (nine kills-two errors-17 total attacks) pace and added an assisted block and nine digs. Januszewski led the Bobcats with three assisted blocks and also notched four kills, an assist and a dig. Giacomazzi handed out a match-high 35 assists to go along with three kills, an assisted block and eight digs. Sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) compiled a team-high 13 digs and also posted an assist. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) tallied 10 digs and two assists.
Long recorded a double-double for Wake Forest with a team-high 12 kills and 20 digs. She also posted three assisted blocks and an assist. Kuhn hit .360 with 11 kills and also had five total blocks (two solo, three assisted), a service ace and three digs. Della finished with seven kills, five total blocks (two solo, three assisted) and a dig. Moore led the match with six assisted blocks and also compiled five kills. Sophomore outside hitter Caroline Rassenfoss tallied six kills, a team-high two service aces, an assist and five digs. Redshirt senior setter Bailey Shurtbet led Wake Forest with 29 assists and also recorded a kill, four assisted blocks and five digs. Senior libero Caroline Wolf logged 13 digs and a service ace.
Ohio looks to bounce back on Saturday when it takes on Yale (4-3) in a 1 p.m. ET contest. The Bobcats will then take on tournament host Penn State (8-0). -- the No. 2 ranked team in the country -- in a 4 p.m. ET matchup. The Nittany Lions swept the Bulldogs, 3-0 (25-9, 25-21, 25-11) on Friday evening to remain unbeaten. Saturday afternoon's match between Ohio and Penn State will be featured on a live video stream.