Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team (8-9, 2-1 MAC) emerged victorious over Mid-American Conference East Division archrival Miami (9-7, 1-2 MAC), 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 17-25, 15-13), in the first 'Battle of the Bricks' matchup of the 2017 season between the two programs on Friday (Sept. 29) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats snapped a three-match losing skid in the series with the RedHawks. Ohio improved to 3-1 in five-set matches in 2017.
Ohio dominated from the service line, posting 10 service aces against just three by Miami. The Bobcats outblocked the RedHawks, 11-8.
"It was a big win," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "Definitely proud of our girls. A lot of key defensive plays. We blocked really well tonight. Not just the last point, but I think throughout the night. Not just balls that we blocked for points, but balls that we touched and were able to transition on. I just thought we really grew up tonight as a team. Some kids are really growing into their new roles and starting to go from just enduring their role to excelling in that role, and I think several of those kids had key plays at key moments."
Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) led the way for the Bobcats with her first career double-double, posting a team-high 14 kills to go along with 10 digs. She also led the match with six total blocks (two solo, four assisted). Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) also achieved a double-double for Ohio with 13 kills and 11 digs -- her team-high sixth double-double of the season. She also contributed two service aces and an assisted block. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) logged a career-high 11 kills to go along with two assisted blocks and two digs. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) tallied eight kills, four total blocks (one solo, three assisted), two service aces and a career-high eight digs. Sophomore outside hitter/libero Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.) led the match with a career-high three service aces and also had four digs. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) led the match with 46 kills and achieved her fourth career double-double with a career-high 19 digs. She also totaled a kill and a career-high four assisted blocks. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) notched a match-high 26 digs to lead the match and set a new career high and also finished with a career-high two service aces. After missing 10-straight matches due to an injury, redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) returned for Ohio and produced a career-high 12 digs and an assist.
"In practice, we really focus on aggressive servers doing their job and consistent servers doing their job," said Vaughn. "I felt like in the situation with such a great crowd, I just knew my role was kind of to go for it, really no holding back, and that's what I did. Obviously, you have to take some caution, but I think that I really just wanted to go for it and get those runs for my team."
Miami came away victorious in the opening set, hitting .226 with 12 kills while Ohio hit .000. The Bobcats owned a 15-13 lead at the media break after three kills by Jimerson, two by Olman and a double block by Giacomazzi and Jimerson. The RedHawks outscored Ohio by 12-6 count down the stretch, though, to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Senior outside hitter/right side hitter Katie Tomasic led Miami with four kills while senior outside hitter Olivia Rusek and senior middle hitter/right side hitter Olivia Stutz each added three.
Ohio answered back with a three-point triumph in the second set to even the match, though. The Bobcats hit at a .235 clip with 16 kills. Stephens led the way with five kills while Januszewski pitched in four and Jimerson tallied three kills and three assisted blocks. Three kills by Januszewski, two apiece by Stephens and Jimerson and service aces by Reihing and Januszewski helped Ohio build up a 15-9 advantage. Three-straight points by the RedHawks forced the Bobcats to call timeout, but kills by Stephens and Giacomazzi helped Ohio take an 18-13 lead and pushed Miami to call a timeout. Two more kills by Stephens, another by Jimerson and a solo block by redshirt senior middle blocker Ali Lake (Liberty Township, Ohio) made it a 23-16 lead for Ohio. Miami responded by scoring six of the next seven points to make it a two-point set at 24-22, with two kills by Tomasic, a double block by Tomasic and sophomore right side hitter/middle hitter Margaret Payne and a kill and a service ace by Rusek putting pressure on the Bobcats. Olman finally secured the set win for Ohio, though, by tallying a kill to give the Bobcats the victory.
The third set saw Ohio take advantage of 11 Miami attack errors en route to a nine-point victory and a 2-1 match lead. Stephens and Olman each had three kills to lead the way for Ohio. Jimerson chipped in two kills and a solo block for the Bobcats while two of Vaughn's three service aces came in the third set.
"Allyson had several serving runs tonight that were huge," said Webb. "Sometimes, it goes unnoticed when you're serving, but I think those created a number of our defensive opportunities."
The RedHawks flipped the script on the Bobcats in the fourth set, however. Ohio grabbed a 13-10 advantage thanks in large part to two kills by Jimerson, another by Olman and a service ace by Stephens. It was all Miami from there, though, as the RedHawks raced to an eight-point win to force a fifth set after closing out the fourth on a 15-4 run. Tomasic, Rusek and Payne each finished with three kills in the set for Miami.
The fifth set was a back-and-fourth struggle between Ohio and Miami. The Bobcats snatched an early 6-4 advantage after two kills by Stephens, a kill by Januszewski and a service ace by Giacomazzi. The RedHawks responded by taking an 8-7 edge thanks to kills by Tomasic and Payne and both a service error and an attack error by Ohio. The Bobcats forced Miami to call timeout, though, when they grabbed a 10-8 lead after a solo block by Jimerson and a service ace by Vaughn. The RedHawks kept coming, though, and took a 13-12 edge after two kills by Rusek, a pair of Ohio attack errors and a kill by Tomasic. Tomasic's kill marked Miami's final point of the evening, though, as a service error and an attack error by the RedHawks and a double block by Januszewski and Stephens allowed the Bobcats to hang on for a five-set win.
Tomasic hit .244 for Miami and led the match with 15 kills. She also had a team-high four total blocks (two solo, two assisted) and pitched in a service ace and six digs. Rusek finished with 13 kills and hit .238. She recorded a double-double with 16 digs and also added two solo blocks, a service ace and three assists. Payne hit .258 with 12 kills and notched two assisted blocks and four digs. Freshman setter Morgan Seaman distributed a team-high four assists and also logged two kills and nine digs. Senior libero Maeve McDonald led Miami with 21 digs and also had three assists. Junior outside hitter/right side hitter Stela Kukoc finished the match with 13 digs and also posted two kills, a service ace and a solo block.
Ohio looks to close out the second weekend of conference play by running its winning streak to three in a row when it hosts Bowling Green (6-8, 2-1 MAC) on Saturday (Sept. 30) in a 7 p.m. ET match at the Convo. The match will be streamed live on ESPN3, with 'Voice of Ohio volleyball' Jake Hromada and Gabe Genovesi on the call. Saturday is Heroes' Day, with retired or active members of the military, marines, police and fire service and EMTs receiving admission to the match for just $2. The Falcons earned their second MAC win of the year on Friday in a 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-16, 25-13) triumph over MAC East Division rival Kent State at the M.A.C. Center.