Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- For the second-straight match, the Ohio volleyball team found itself in a five-set fight on the road.
This time, the Bobcats came away with the upper hand.
Ohio (9-11, 3-3 MAC) prevailed over Eastern Michigan (10-12, 2-4 MAC), 3-2 (25-23, 24-26, 25-19, 27-29, 15-13), on Saturday (Oct. 7) at EMU's Convocation Center.
"Very important road conference win for us," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "We were able to earn 22 points combined from blocking and serving, and those were important points for us."
The Bobcats improved to 4-2 in five-set matches in 2017.
Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) piled up a match-high 22 kills and hit .270. She also achieved a double-double with 18 digs, giving her a team-high eight double-doubles on the season. She recorded a match-high four service aces and a career-high four total blocks (one solo, three assisted). Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit .229 with 19 kills and posted a double-double with 12 digs for her fourth-straight double-double. She tied for the team lead with six total blocks (four solo, two assisted) and also added an assist. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) nearly posted a double-double with 13 kills and nine digs. She also contributed a solo block and an assist. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) tied her season-high with six total blocks (one solo, five assisted). She also finished with four kills and three digs. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) achieved her seventh career double-double and fourth in a row with a match-high 57 assists and 18 digs. She also had a kill, a service ace and three assisted blocks. Sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) led the team with 20 digs and also added a service ace and four assists. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) compiled 12 digs and two service aces.
"Lizzie was good throughout the match, scoring both attacking and from the service line," said Webb.
The Bobcats pulled out a two-point victory in the opening set behind by six kills and a solo block by Jimerson, five kills and two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) by Stephens and four kills and a solo block by Olman.
Ohio dropped the second set despite six kills, a service ace and an assisted block by Stephens. Eastern Michigan jumped out to a 10-5 lead behind three kills by freshman outside hitter Franki Strefling and two kills by senior middle blocker Kelly Ferguson. The Bobcats countered with a 13-8 run to even the score at 18-all, utilizing four kills by Stephens. Ohio had set point at 24-21 after two kills by Stephens, another by Januszewski and three attack errors by the Eagles. The set unraveled for the Bobcats from there, though, after back-to-back Ohio attack errors, two kills by Eastern Michigan junior outside hitter Jordan Smith and another by Ferguson.
In the third set, Stephens broke a 10-all tie with a kill, and the Bobcats hand control for the rest of the way to take a 2-1 match lead. Stephens hit .429 for the set with six kills and added a service ace and an assisted block. Jimerson chipped in three total blocks (one solo, two assisted) and two kills. After Eastern Michigan pulled within one at 15-14 on an Ohio attack error, the Bobcats closed out the set win with a 10-5 run, taking advantage of two kills and a service ace by Stephens and a service ace by Howe.
The Bobcats received five kills and a solo block by Jimerson, four kills by Stephens, three kills by Olman and three total blocks by Januszewski (one solo, two assisted) in the fourth set. The Eagles countered with five kills and four total blocks (two solo, two assisted) by Ferguson, five kills apiece by Smith and Strefling and three total blocks (one solo, two assisted) by redshirt sophomore middle blocker/right side hitter Cassie Haut. Trailing 22-17, the Bobcats went on a 5-0 run after a kill and a service ace by Stephens, back-to-back kills by Olman and another service ace by Stephens. The Eagles grabbed set point, though, after a kill by Smith and a double block by Haunt and Ferguson. A solo block by Januszewski and three-straight attack errors by Eastern Michigan gave Ohio set point at 26-25. Eastern Michigan grabbed control back after kills by Strefling and Smith, but the Bobcats tied it up after a kill by Jimerson. The set came undone after Ohio after back-to-back attack errors, though, and Eastern Michigan sent the match to a fifth set.
The fifth set was a back-and-forth battle. With the score even at five-all, kills by Olman and Stephens helped Ohio grab an 8-6 edge. Kills by sophomore setter Riley Taylor and an Ohio attack error evened the score at eight-all, but Ohio snatched an 11-9 advantage after a kill by Stephens and a bad set and an attack error by Eastern Michigan. Two kills by Smith and another by Haut tied it up at 12-all for the Eagles. A kill by Jimerson put the Bobcats two points away from victory, but Ferguson tied the score again for Eastern Michigan. Ohio made the final push to a win, though, thanks to a kill by Jimerson and a bad set by the Eagles.
"EMU had a player go down at the end of the match. We're hoping and praying that she is okay," said Webb.
Smith led Eastern Michigan with 20 kills and added 22 digs. She also logged two assisted blocks, a service ace and two assists. Sterfling finished with 15 kills and 13 digs. Ferguson totaled 14 kills, hitting .414, and led the match with eight total blocks (four solo, four assisted). She also had an assist and two digs. Redshirt junior setter Mallory Rajewski led the Eagles with a match-high 32 digs and 28 assists. She also had three kills and a serive ace. Riley also gave Eastern Michigan a double-double with 26 assists and 10 digs. She also added a kill. Junior defensive specialist/libero Alyssa LaFace recorded 27 digs and eight assists.
Ohio returns to Athens next weekend, hosting a pair of MAC West Division foes at the Convocation Center. The Bobcats will take on Toledo next Friday (Oct. 13), then welcome Ball State on Saturday (Oct. 14). Both matches are set for 7 p.m. ET starts will be streamed live on ESPN3. The matchup with the Cardinals will serve as Ohio's Dig Pink match.