Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
KENT, Ohio -- The Ohio volleyball team (8-11, 2-3 MAC) rallied from a 2-0 deficit but could not complete the comeback, falling to Mid-American Conference East Division rival Kent State (3-13, 1-4 MAC), 3-2 (25-18, 25-12, 17-25, 27-29, 15-12), on Thursday (Oct. 5) at the M.A.C. Center.
"I was impressed with the resolve we showed in coming back to force a fifth set after dropping the first two," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb.
The Bobcats fell to 3-2 in five-set matches in 2017. Ohio committed 32 attack errors and 13 service errors in the loss to the Golden Flashes.
"Unforced errors continue to be a problem for us, and it showed today," said Webb.
Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) put together a huge effort for the Bobcats in the defeat, tallying a match-high 21 kills and a career-high 17 digs for her third-straight double-double. She also tallied an assisted block. Jimerson hit at a .425 clip. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) led the match with four assisted blocks and added 10 kills, marking the third time in 2017 she has posted double-digit kills. She also had an assist. Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) recorded eight kills, four service aces, a solo block, two assists and 12 digs. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) hit .467 with seven kills and also pitched in two assisted blocks and two digs. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) added seven kills, a solo block and a dig. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) achieved her sixth career double-double and third in a row with 46 assists and 16 digs. She also totaled four kills, three total blocks (one solo, two assisted) and two service aces. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) compiled 23 digs and three assists while sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) logged 12 digs, a service ace and an assist.
"Tia attacked at a high level, and Carley performed admirably in her first collegiate match on the right," said Webb.
Kent State jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set and never looked back. The Bobcats opened the match with three-straight attack errors while Kent State senior opposite hitter Heather Younkin posted a pair of kills and sophomore defensive specialist/libero Claire Tulisiak added a service ace. The Golden Flashes posted a seven-point win in the opening set behind five kills by Younkin and three apiece by senior outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger and senior middle blocker Amber Gerdeman.
The Golden Flashes rolled to a 2-0 match lead behind a 13-point victory in the second set. Junior outside hitter Lexi Mantas powered Kent State's attack with five kills while freshman setter Natalie Tagala recorded a pair of service aces. The Bobcats hit just .026 in the second-set loss.
Ohio bounced back with a victory in the third set to extend the match, though. A kill by Remmers broke a 12-all tie and gave the Bobcats a lead they never relinquished. Ohio won the set behind a balanced attack, with Jimerson totaling three kills, Giacomazzi pitching in two kills and two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) and Januszewski, Olman and Stephens each tallying two kills.
The Bobcats clawed their way to a dramatic 29-27 victory in the fourth set to even the match. Ohio was powered by nine kills and a .692 hitting percentage by Jimerson in the set. A kill by Bittinger and back-to-back Ohio attack errors gave Kent State a 17-14 advantage, but Ohio answered with a 6-3 run to even the score at 20-all, utilizing two kills by Jimerson, a kill by Olman and a service ace by sophomore outside hitter/libero Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.). The Bobcats were forced to call timeout, though, after a service error and an attack error by Ohio gave Kent State a 22-20 lead. The Golden Flashes found themselves two points away from a four-set win after another Ohio service error, but a Kent State attack error and back-to-back service aces by Stephens gave the Bobcats a one-point lead and forced a timeout by the home team. A service error by the Bobcats kept Kent State alive, and the teams traded seven-straight points until Ohio finally broke through for the set victory thanks to a kill by Jimerson and an attack error by the Golden Flashes.
Despite the big comeback by Ohio, it appeared as though Kent State was going to run away with the fifth set as the Golden Flashes raced out to a 10-3 lead courtesy of four kills by Bittinger and two more by Younkin. The Bobcats did not go quietly, though, going on an 8-2 run to trim Kent State's edge to one point. Three kills by Remmers, another by Januszewski and two service aces by Stephens sparked Ohio's comeback. A kill by Jimerson cut the Golden Flashes' advantage to 13-12, but Kent State finally closed out the match with kills by Gerdeman and Tagala.
Bittinger led Kent State with 15 kills and achieved a double-double with 14 digs. Younkin chipped in 14 kills and tied for the team lead with three total blocks (one solo, two assisted). She also had a dig. Sophomore middle blocker Myla King contributed 11 kills and hit .308. She tied Younkin for the team lead with three assisted blocks and also had two digs. Tagala tallied a double-double with a match-high 48 assists to go along with 17 digs. She also posted two kills, two assisted blocks and a team-high two service aces. Senior defensive specialist Challen Geraghty led the match with 25 digs and also had three assists. Tulisiak totaled 14 digs and added a service ace and two assists while junior defensive specialist/libero Sam Jones finished with 12 digs.
Ohio looks to bounce back on Saturday (Oct. 7) as it travels to Ypsilanti, Mich., to meet MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan (10-11, 2-3 MAC) in a 5 p.m. ET matchup at the Convocation Center. Saturday's contest against the Eagles will be streamed live on EMU All-Access (subscription required). Eastern Michigan dropped a 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 15-11) decision at home to MAC West Division rival Central Michigan on Thursday.