Coming off of a loss to the Bowling Green Falcons, the Ohio University women’s volleyball team (6-7, 2-1 MAC) was in need of a win against MAC East rival Kent State (4-11, 1-2 MAC) if they hoped to keep pace with Bowling Green in the MAC East race. They got that win, defeating the Golden Flashes in straight sets; 25-19, 28-26 and 25-22.
The game was highlighted by a mix of aggressive attacking and solid defensive play by the Bobcats in all three sets. The defensive play, in particular, was important because OU won all but two long rallies. Freshman libero Meredith Ashy led the team with 20 digs, many of which came at key moments when OU needed to hold onto momentum.
“I think, just playing our game, just having the mentality, that’s what we have been working on in practice, winning every single volley that we get. Beating every team, digging the ball straight up in the middle, putting it down first, and then kill,” Ashy said.
Tin Adermi-Ibitola lead Kent State with nine kills, while the Bobcats were co-lead by sophomore outside hitters Kelly Lamberti and Chelsea Bilger, who both had twelve.
The first set required the Bobcats to come back from an 8-4 deficit. They scored first off of a blocked spike, but quickly fell behind after Kent State got some quick points. After a few strong rallies for OU, the Bobcats took the lead on a block by freshman setter Abby Gillleland. When the score reached 20-18, Kent State called a time out, but when the game resumed Ohio ripped off five straight points to win the set.
The second set was the closest OU came to losing. The game was tied at 24, and then again at 25 and 26. OU finally won the set at that point, getting two straight points to win the set, including one off of a spectacular dig from junior defensive specialist Mollie Geske. Lamberti was the star for OU in that set, registering six kills and six digs.
The momentum of winning such a close third set carried into the third for the Bobcats. They lead the entire set and at two different points, had five point leads.
Sophomore middle back Serena Warner was the star for Ohio in that frame, she had three kills and three digs, both highs for Ohio in that set. This was a big change from the previous two periods, where she was largely nullified by Kent State.
“Serena played great in the third. I thought in game one, they were all over her, so we had to go elsewhere. We saw that, actually in the first two plays of the game, that they did not want us setting the middle, so we rode that for while, so Serena was really more of a decoy in one and two,” said head coach Ryan Theis. “A lot of teams are going to have to worry about her.”
The win over Kent State brought the Bobcats within half a game of Bowling Green, the MAC East leader and the team Ohio lost to this past Saturday. And while the Bobcats do have their eye on revenge and claiming the MAC Title, they know it’s a long season.
“We are gonna just keep playing one game after another. BG is probably gonna get some big wins, but we are going to keep chasing everyone,” Lamberti said.