CLEVELAND -- Ohio volleyball sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) has been named Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday (Oct. 30).
Stephens earns MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career. Her selection marks the third-straight week a Bobcat has been named MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week as freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) garnered honors each of the past two weeks.
Stephens produced a huge weekend to help Ohio (13-13, 7-5 MAC) to put together its first 2-0 conference weekend of the 2017 season with a pair of victories over MAC East Division rivals at the Convocation Center. She hit at a .384 pace with a team-high 37 kills (6.17 per set), led the team with six service aces (1.00 per set) and added two assisted blocks (0.33 per set), two assists (0.33 per set) and 12 digs (2.00 per set). Stephens hit a career-high .424 with a match-high 18 kills on 33 attack attempts as Ohio earned a 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-21) sweep of Akron last Friday (Oct. 27). She also tallied a service ace, an assisted block and five digs. The Bobcats hit .290 with 40 kills in the win. Ohio earned its 15th-straight win over the Zips. On Saturday (Oct. 28), Stephens totaled a match-high 19 kills and tied a career-high five service aces as Ohio swept Buffalo, 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-22). She finished the night hitting .350 and added seven digs and an assisted block. The Bobcats dominated with a .310 hitting percentage with 49 kills while limiting the Bulls to a .198 hitting percentage with 36 kills. Ohio also served a match-high seven aces. The 53 digs by the Bobcats marked the team's third-most in a three-set match this year. Ohio snapped Buffalo's five-match winning streak with the win. The Bobcats improved to 38-3 (.927) all-time against the Bulls.
Through 26 matches in 2017, Stephens currently leads the conference and ranks 29th in the nation with 378 kills (3.74 per set; fifth in the MAC). She also leads the league and ranks third in the country with 53 service aces (0.52 per set; first in the MAC, eighth in the country), which ranks as the second-most in a single season in the rally scoring era of the program's history. Stephens has posted double-digit kills a team-high 21 times for Ohio in 2017 -- including in 14 of the last 16 matches. She is also second on the team with nine double-doubles. Stephens has already set career highs in kills, service aces, digs (252; 2.50 digs per set), total blocks (31, seven solo, 24 assisted; 0.31 total blocks per set) and assists (12; 0.12 assists per set).
Ohio will take to the road one last time in the 2017 regular season as it visits a pair of MAC East Division rivals next weekend. The Bobcats will take on Bowling Green (14-9, 9-2 MAC) on Friday (Nov. 3) at the Stroh Center before a 'Battle of the Bricks' showdown with archrival Miami (17-8, 9-3 MAC) on Saturday (Nov. 4) at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio. Ohio suffered to a 3-1 (17-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22) setback to Bowling Green on Sept. 30 but took down MAC preseason favorite Miami, 3-2 (21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 17-25, 15-13), the previous night at the Convo. Bowling Green and Miami are currently the top two squads in the overall MAC standings.