Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
KALMAZOO, MICH. -- Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit a team-best .522 with a team-high 18 kills and added a solo block, but the Ohio volleyball team (11-13, 5-5 MAC) suffered a 3-1 loss (14-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19) loss to Mid-American Conference West Division foe Western Michigan (14-7, 7-3 MAC) on Saturday (Oct. 21) at University Arena.
The Broncos hit .234 with 52 kills while holding the Bobcats to a .162 hitting percentage and 41 kills. Western Michigan won despite committing 22 attack errors -- two more than Ohio had.
"We didn't put forth the effort required to overcome the physicality of Western Michigan," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "Western Michigan played well and deserved the win. It was a great lesson for some of our younger players in how to defend against pace."
Jimerson has now recorded eight matches in 2017 where she has hit .400 or better with double-digit kills. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) finished with eight kills and a team-high three total blocks (one solo, two assisted). Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) led the match with three service aces and also recorded six kills, a solo block and eight digs. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) notched six kills, two total blocks and six digs. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) her team-high 10th double-double of the season with a team-high 37 assists in addition to 11 digs. Sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) led the team with 13 digs.
Western Michigan was led by a match-high 20 kills from freshman outside hitter Rachel Bontrager, who hit .255 in addition to tallying a team-high two service aces, two solo blocks and seven digs. Senior middle blocker Sydney LeMay hit at a .647 pace with 12 kills and led the match with five total blocks (one solo, four assisted). She also had a service ace and four digs. Sophomore right side hitter/middle blocker Quiana Ware totaled eight kills and hit .368 for the match. Junior setter Mary Murphy led the match with 39 assists and also chipped in four kills, a service ace, two assisted blocks and six digs. Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Kathleen Reilly led the match with 18 digs and added a service ace while freshman libero/defensive specialist Kaley Smith added 11 digs and five assists.
The Bobcats cruised to an 11-point victory in the opening set, hitting .300 while limiting Western Michigan to a -.107 hitting percentage. Jimerson led the charge for Ohio, hitting .750 with six kills while Remmers posted three kills and a solo block and Stephens contributed three service aces. Ohio jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks in large part to two kills by Jimerson and another by Olman as the Bobcats earned a wire-to-wire set win.
Western Michigan flipped the script of the match, though, in the second set, holding Ohio to a -.070 hitting percentage with just seven kills as the Broncos earned a nine-point victory. Bontrager paced the Broncos with five kills and a solo block. A double block by Olman and sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) allowed Ohio to score the first point of the set, but a kill by freshman middle blocker Cassandra Smigiel and a double block by LeMay and Smigiel gave Western Michigan a lead it never gave up. Western Michigan led by as many as 10 at five different points in the set.
The Broncos took control of a back-and-forth third set to take a 2-1 lead in the match. A kill by Remmers, an attack error by the Broncos and a kill by Stephens gave Ohio a 13-10 lead and forced Western Michigan to burn a timeout. The Broncos seized control after that, though, outscoring the Bobcats 15-4 the rest of the way. Bontrager racked up eight more kills while LeMay added five to Western Michigan's cause.
Ohio looked to be on its way to forcing a fifth set in the early going, grabbing a quick 5-1 edge thanks to three kills by Jimerson and a solo block by Olman. The Broncos rallied, though, scoring 14 of the next 23 points to take a 15-14 lead on a kill by senior middle blocker Olivia Kofie. A kill by Stephens evened things up, but that's as close as Ohio got as Western Michigan outscored the Bobcats, 10-4 down the stretch to seal the match victory. Bontrager added six more kills in the fourth set while LeMay chipped in five and a service ace.
Ohio will be back at the friendly confines of the Convocation Center next weekend, playing host to MAC East Division rivals Akron on Friday (Oct. 27) and Buffalo on Saturday (Oct. 28). Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. ET start times. The first 250 students in attendance on Friday will receive free Domino's Pizza. Saturday's contest will serve as the Bobcats' Halloween Spook 'n' Spike Match, with $2 admission for anyone who wears a costume to the Convo.