Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft
ATHENS, Ohio -- Redshirt senior middle blocker Ali Lake (Liberty Township, Ohio) provided the final kill of the match for the Ohio volleyball team (16-14, 10-6 MAC) in her final match at the Convocation Center, sealing a 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-21) Senior Night sweep of Mid-American Conference West Division foe Central Michigan (15-13, 7-9 MAC) on Saturday (Nov. 11).
"I think it shows just how awesome of a person she is," said junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) of Lake's final kill. "The whole crowd went crazy. I even got chills. It was so exciting and a great moment."
The Bobcats locked down the No. 4 seed in next week's 2017 MAC Championship, which will be held at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio. Ohio will play either No. 5-seeded Buffalo or No. 8-seeded Eastern Michigan next Friday (Nov. 17) at 4:30 p.m. ET. All league tournament matches will be streamed live on ESPN3.
Ohio won seven of its final nine MAC matches to clinch the No. 4 seed, overcoming numerous key injuries throughout the season.
The Bobcats hit .272 for the match while limiting the Chippewas to a .106 hitting percentage. Ohio led the match in kills (42-31), service aces (6-0), total team blocks (8-6) and digs (47-44).
"That's the best way to go into the MAC tournament, to win in three sets and doing well on all levels," said Olman. "Just keeping this game in the back of our minds because confidence is going to be really key for us."
Olman hit a career-best .550 with 12 kills and also added an assisted block. Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) finished with 11 kills, a match-high six total blocks (two solo, four assisted) and two digs. Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) hit at a .304 pace with eight kills and piled up 10 digs. She also had a solo block. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) posted seven kills and hit .250. She also had a solo block and six digs. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) distributed a match-high 38 assists and chipped in three assisted blocks and three digs. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) led the match with 13 digs, tied her career high with three service aces and had an assist while sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) compiled 11 digs and a service ace.
Freshman outside hitter Kalina Smith hit .211 and tied senior outside hitter Jordan Bueter for the team lead with seven kills for Central Michigan. Bueter also had nine digs. Senior outside hitter Taylor Robertson notched six kills, a solo block and three digs. Sophomore middle blocker Jayla Wesley hit .273 with five kills, had a team-high two solo blocks and a dig. Freshman setter Grace Butler dished out 30 assists and had a kill and two digs. Senior defensive specialist Courtney Hiltibran led the Chippewas with 12 digs and an assist while junior defensive specialist Emily Wenglikowski added 10 digs.
Ohio jumped out to a 7-1 lead to start the match, with two kills by Olman, kills by Remmers and Jimerson and a service ace by Reihing forcing Central Michigan to call timeout. The Chippewas burned their second timeout after Ohio took a 16-10 lead behind two kills apiece by Stephens, Jimerson and Remmers and a service ace by Howe. Central Michigan rallied back, though, using a 10-4 run to even the set score at 20-all. The Bobcats closed out a three-point set one win, however, with two more kills by Remmers and kills by Olman and Jimerson.
The second set saw Olman hit .667 with four kills and Stephens hit .500 with three kills as the Bobcats hit .318 as a team while holding Central Michigan to a -.200 hitting percentage en route to a 13-point win to take a 2-0 match lead.
Ohio rolled toward another blowout win the third set, jumping out to a 24-14 lead behind five kills and three total blocks (two solo, one assisted) by Jimerson and four kills by Olman. The Chippewas rattled off seven-straight points to pull within three points, but Lake ended the match with a kill that sent the Convo crowd into a frenzy.
"We were up early in that set and I looked down and asked, 'Ali, you want in?'," recounted fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "And she's like, 'Steph's playing really well, I want her to have this game.' And I was thinking, just, how cool is that. This is your day, but you want one of your teammates to have a great match. That just shows the maturity she showed. I respect that. Not a lot of people can do that."
Stay tuned to OhioBobcats.com for complete coverage of Ohio volleyball's MAC tournament run.