Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
AKRON, Ohio -- Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) recorded a match-high 19 kills, and freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit .609 with 16 kills and added four total blocks (two solo, two assisted) to help the Ohio volleyball team (7-9, 1-1 MAC) pick up its first conference win of the 2017 season with a 3-1 (25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23) victory over Mid-American Conference East Division rival Akron (5-9, 1-1 MAC) on Saturday (Sept. 23) at James A. Rhodes Arena.
The Bobcats earned their 14th-straight win over the Zips.
"Great team win on the road tonight," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb.
Stephens added a team-high two service aces as well as a solo block, an assist and six digs. Jimerson also posted four digs in her big performance. Redshirt senior middle blocker Ali Lake (Liberty Township, Ohio) totaled a season-high 11 kills and hit .421. She also chipped in an assisted block and a dig. Sophomore setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) finished with nine kills and two total blocks (one solo, one assisted). Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) led the match with 53 assists and also compiled two kills and seven digs. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) racked up a match-high 17 digs.
"I was most impressed with Macy and (sophomore libero) Meredith (Howe) in serve receive," said Webb. "They consistently got us in system, allowing Tia and Ali to have big nights offensively."
Ohio came out firing on all cylinders in the opening set, hitting .486 with 20 kills while limiting Akron to just eight kills as the Bobcats rolled to a 10-point win. A service error by the Zips gave Ohio a 4-3 edge and a lead it never gave up in the set. Stephens led the charge with seven kills while Jimerson posted five and Olman tallied four.
Akron answered back in the second set, though, to even the match. The Zips held Ohio to a -.148 hitting percentage and just six kills. The Bobcats committed 10 attack errors in the second set.
The Bobcats jumped out to an 8-4 advantage in the third set, using a kill and back-to-back service aces by Stephens, two kills by Lake and a kill by sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.). Akron responded with a 16-11 run, though, to take a 20-19 lead and force Ohio to burn a timeout. Lake came up with a kill to even the score at 20-all, but the Zips came back with a kill by junior left side hitter Kayla Gwozdz put Akron back in front. A kill by Olman and a solo block by Jimerson put Ohio in the lead, but a kill by sophomore left side hitter Elya Karsner evened the score for the Zips. Back-to-back kills by Jimerson and Januszewski gave Ohio set point. Another kill by Karsner kept the Zips alive, but Stephens gave Ohio a 2-1 match lead with her fifth kill of the set.
Ohio and Akron traded points in the early going of the fourth set until the Bobcats overcame an 8-7 deficit by going on an 11-4 run to take an 18-12 lead. Four kills by Stephens and three by Jimerson helped the Bobcats take a six-point lead. The Zips did not go away quietly, though, and responded with a 7-4 spurt to cut Ohio's lead to 22-19 and force the Bobcats to burn a timeout. A service error by Akron gave Ohio a four-point lead, but the Zips then cut the Bobcats' advantage down to one after an Ohio service error and back-to-back Bobcat attack errors. After calling their final timeout, the Bobcats earned a two-point set win and the match victory thanks to kills by Lake and Jimerson.
Gwozdz led Akron with 13 kills and also had five digs. Karsner hit .320 and tallied 13 kills in addition to recording five digs. Redshirt senior middle blocker Jessica Kloehn finished with nine kills and tied for the match lead with five total blocks (one solo, four assisted). Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Richardson compiled five total blocks (three solo, two assisted), three kills and a service ace. Freshman setter Emily Weigand led the match with three service aces in addition to leading the Zips with 39 assists and tallying three assisted blocks and five digs. Freshman defensive specialist Taylor Sharrits led Akron with nine digs.
Ohio will return home after three-straight weekends on the road next weekend. The Bobcats will play host to MAC East Division archrival Miami next Friday (Sept. 29), then welcome East Division rival Bowling Green on Saturday (Sept. 30). Both matches will be streamed live on ESPN3.