Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft & Pete Nakos
ATHENS, Ohio -- Behind another dominating performance by sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas), the Ohio volleyball team (13-13, 7-5 MAC) swept Mid-American Conference East Division rival Buffalo (14-9, 7-5 MAC), 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-22), Saturday (Oct. 28) at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats put together their first 2-0 conference weekend of the 2017 season after sweeping MAC East Division rival Akron, 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-21), on Friday (Oct. 27). Ohio has won four of its last five matches.
"Our belief and confidence are both very high," said Stephens. "We've got to work harder this week in practice."
Ohio snapped Buffalo's five-match winning streak with the win. The Bobcats improved to 38-3 (.927) all-time against the Bulls.
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.
"I think tonight is a real belief," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb of the significance of the victory. "It's a win that are team can really believe in ourselves. I think that continue tonight. Going into tonight's match, they'd won 15 of the last 16 sets. This is not a team that's just getting by. Buffalo is a very good team. I think tonight our serve and pass was very good."
Stephens once again led the way for Ohio with a match-high 19 kills and tied a career-high five service aces. She finished the night hitting .350 and added seven digs and an assisted block. Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit .478 with 13 kills and chipped in a dig. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) just missed a double-double with eight kills and a match-high 16 digs. She also tallied a service ace, an assisted block and an assist. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) led the match with three assisted blocks and also had three kills. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) assisted on a match-high 43 kills and chipped in two kills of her own. She also added an assisted block and two digs. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Kentucky) contributed 15 digs, a service ace and an assist while sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) finished with 11 digs.
"We worked a lot this week at working digs in system," said Remmers. "Our offense needed to get going. To do that, we had to play well in the back row."
Leading the way for Buffalo was junior middle blocker Megan Wernette with 12 kills and a team-best .450 hitting percentage. She also totaled two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) to tie for the team lead and logged a dig. Freshman outside hitter Andrea Mitrovic hit .345 and also had 12 kills. She achieved a double-double with a team-high 15 digs and tallied an assisted block. Sophomore outside hitter Polina Prokudina finished with nine kills and also had five digs and an assist. Sophomore setter Scout McLerran dished out 32 assists, tied Wernette for the team lead with two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) and also chipped in a kill and five digs. Junior libero/defensive specialist Larra Bickelhaupt also posted double-digit digs with 11 and had a service ace and an assist.
Ohio opened the match by scoring the first five points, taking advantage of three-straight kills by Jimerson, another by Stephens and a service ace by Remmers. The Bobcats made it a 12-7 lead thanks to two more kills by Jimerson, kills by Stephens, Januszewski and junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) and a double block by Januszewski and Remmers. Three kills by Wernette and another by Prokudina allowed Buffalo to cut Ohio's lead down to three, though, at 14-11. Ohio built its advantage up to six, however, after kills by Jimerson and Olman and back-to-back service service aces by Stephens made it 20-14 in favor of the Bobcats. A kill by Prokudina and a kill and a solo block by Wernette trimmed back to three at 20-17, but Ohio found itself with a 23-20 edge courtesy of two kills by Stephens and another by Remmers. An Ohio service error made it a two-point set, but the Bobcats grabbed a 1-0 lead in the match with kills by Januszewski and Jimerson to close out the set victory. Jimerson hit .600 with seven kills in the opening set while Stephens tallied five kills and two service aces.
Buffalo grabbed a 10-9 edge to begin the second set thanks to three kills by Mitrovic and a double block by Mitrovic and senior middle blocker Cassie Shado. Ohio flipped the script with a 9-2 run to take an 18-12 lead and force Buffalo to burn a timeout. Stephens powered the stretch with two kills and three-straight service aces. An Ohio service error and kills by Mitrovic and Prokudina allowed the Bulls to pull to within four at 18-14, but two kills by Jimerson, kills by Remmers and Stephens and a double block by Januszewski and Giacomazzi allowed the Bobcats to earn a seven-point set win and take a 2-0 lead in the match. Stephens made her presence felt in the set with seven kills and three service aces.
Ohio broke an 11-all tie in the third set with a 7-2 run that gave the Bobcats an 18-13 lead thanks to kills by Stephens, Januszewski and Remmers and a double block by Januszewski and Stephens. The Bobcats took a 23-17 lead courtesy of four more kills by Stephens and another by Olman. The Bulls made a push with two kills by Mitrovic and a double block by Wernette and McLerran forcing Ohio to burn a timeout clinging to a two-point lead at 24-22. Remmers ensured a sweep for Ohio, though, ending the match with her fourth kill of the set and eighth of the ninth. Stephens finished the third set with seven kills and an assisted block while Jimerson tallied three kills.
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 next Friday (Nov. 3) at the Stroh Center before a 'Battle of the Bricks' showdown with archrival Miami 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.