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Ohio Volleyball Knocks Off Albany In Four Sets For First Win Of 2018 Season

Ohio Volleyball Knocks Off Albany In Four Sets For First Win Of 2018 Season

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team (1-2) picked up its first victory of the 2018 season, knocking off reigning America East Conference regular season champion Albany (0-3), 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-18), this evening in its final match of the Sports Imports Classic at St. John Arena.

The Bobcats placed third in the season-opening tournament hosted by Ohio State. Ohio dropped a 3-1 (24-26, 25-18, 25-17, 25-16) decision to Texas A&M on Friday (Aug. 24), then fell to the host Buckeyes, 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-11), earlier this afternoon.

The night began with Ohio suffering a seventh-straight set loss as the Great Danes produced a five-point victory. The Bobcats went up 4-2 after a double block by junior middle blocker Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) and junior outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas), a kill by sophomore setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) and a double block by Stephens and sophomore middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.). Albany flipped the script, though, with a 13-4 run that was punctuated by a kill by junior middle blocker Courtney O'Connell. The Bobcats answered with a 10-4 run that made it a one-point set at 19-18. Ohio took advantage of five attack errors and a service error by Albany and back-to-back kills by Stephens to cap off the stretch. A kill by redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) cut Ohio's deficit back to two at 22-20, but another kill by Kelly, an attack error by the Bobcats and a service ace by sophomore middle blocker Danielle Tedesco vaulted Albany to the 1-0 match lead.

The Bobcats were on the brink of falling behind 2-0 in the match but scrapped their way to a critical two-point win in the second set to even things up. Albany broke up a 10-all tie by going on a 6-3 run, taking advantage of a kill and a solo block by Tedesco as well as two service errors and two attack errors by Ohio. Ohio swung the momentum back by scoring seven of the next nine points to snatch a 20-18 lead. Back-to-back service aces by sophomore libero/defensive specialist Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.), two kills by Stephens and another by Stephens highlighted the run for the Bobcats. The Great Danes grabbed the lead back, 21-20, thanks to kills by O'Connell, redshirt junior middle blocker Akuabata Okenwa and Tedesco. Another kill by Kosiorek, a double block by Kosiorek and Januszewski and an Albany service error put Ohio back in front by one, but an Ohio service error allowed the Great Danes to tie it back up at 23-all. The Bobcats finally put the set away, though, using a kill by redshirt senior right side hitter Katie Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) and an Albany attack error to even the match up at one-all.

Albany took a 7-6 edge in the third set by way of a kill by sophomore outside hitter Tatiana Tiangco, but it marked the final time the Great Danes held a lead in the match. Ohio scored 10 of the next 15 points, utilizing a kill by Nelson, a service ace by Reihing, a pair of double blocks by Jimerson and Nelson, two kills by Jimerson and three more by Kosiorek. Albany responded with a 5-1 run to tie things up at 17-all, but Ohio took a 2-1 match lead by closing the third set out on an 8-2 run. Four kills by Jimerson and another by Nelson paved the way to victory for the Bobcats.

Ohio raced out to an 8-1 lead to start the fourth set and never looked back en route to a seven-point win that locked up their first match victory of the season. Stephens produced three kills, Jimerson added another and double blocks by Stephens and Jimerson and Jimerson and Giacomazzi set the tone in the early going. The Bobcats maintained a seven-point lead at 15-8 thanks to another kill by Jimerson, a kill and a service ace by Kosiorek, a service ace by Giacomazzi and three kills by redshirt junior middle blocker Simone Miller (Kalamazoo, Mich.). A service ace by freshman outside hitter Grace Cozad and a kill by Tiangco made it a four-point set, but Ohio grew its lead to 10 by scoring seven of the next eight-points -- including a stretch of five in a row highlighted by a service ace by Stephens and back-to-back kills by Kosiorek. The Great Danes strung together a 6-2 run to make it a six-point set, but freshman outside hitter Ila Angermeier (Kirtland, Ohio) put Albany away with her second kill of the set.

"Albany came out strong, earning the win in the first set as they did against Ohio State and Texas A&M," said fifth-year head coach Deane Webb. "They are a scrappy defensive team, and we weren't as disciplined as we needed to be early in the match. We settled into a good rhythm in serve receive after the first set, and our offensive output increased when that happened. We have a great deal of work to do so that we can become the serve receive and offensive team we want to be this year."

Jimerson paced the Ohio attack, finishing with a match-high 16 kills and five assisted blocks. Kosiorek tallied 13 kills for the Bobcats. Stephens just missed out on her first double-double of the year with 12 kills and nine digs. She hit .476 for the match and also added three assisted blocks and a service ace. Reihing led Ohio with three service aces, matching her career high, and also led the match with 19 digs. Giacomazzi dished out a match-high 49 assists. She represented Ohio on the All-Sports Imports Classic Team after finishing the weekend with 94 assists (8.55 per set).

Albany was led by Tiangco, who posted 10 kills. Kelly finished with a team-high three service aces and a team-high 22 assists. Tedesco recorded a team-high three total blocks (two solo, one assisted) for the Great Danes. Senior libero Nicole Otero compiled a team-high 12 digs.

The Bobcats' travels will take them to Lincoln, Neb., for the second weekend of the season to play in the Ameritas Players Challenge next weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 1). Ohio will be tested immediately when it meets Nebraska in the opening match of the tournament. The Cornhuskers captured their second national championship in the last three years and fifth in program history last year, going 32-4 overall and 19-1 in Big Ten Conference play before punctuating six-straight wins in the NCAA Championship with a 3-1 triumph over Florida in the national title match. Ohio will wrap up the first day of the Ameritas Players Challenge with a contest against Santa Clara. The Bobcats will be playing the Broncos, who ranked No. 94 in the RPI last year, for the first time. Ohio's trip to Lincoln concludes with a matchup with Wake Forest the following day. The Bobcats face the Demon Deacons for the second year in a row and will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss last September at the Penn State Classic.

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