The Ohio Bobcats came in to a Friday night matchup with the Toledo Rockets glad to be back at home after going 1-1 on their road trip last weekend.
An average size crowd and a loud Ohio Varsity Alumni Band helped guide the Bobcats to a big win in MAC play over the Rockets in four sets (23-25, 25-13, 25-16, 25-21) to improve to 16-3 overall and 6-1 in MAC play.
Ohio had to overcome a strong first set by the Rockets, particularly Lauren Rafdal, who racked up eight kills in the opening set that led to the Rockets taking a 1-0 lead in the set.
“We had to try to take away their best player, she killed us in the first set and I didn’t even think we played that bad, so hats off to her. We needed to find a way to shut her down,” coach Ryan Theis said.
The Bobcats did just that in the second set, holding Toledo to just 13 total points and holding Rafdal to just a single kill in a dominating set.
The second half was more of the same, as it was a 10-2 run to end the set by the Green and White to give them the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Bobcats would not be denied in what would turn out to be the final set of the match. Five different Bobcats racked up kills and it was a perfectly placed spike by Kelly Lamberti that gave the Bobcats the set (25-23) and gave them a 3-1 win over Toledo for their sixth conference win this season.
In a losing effort, Toledo was led by Rafdal who racked up 16 kills and Becca Reidy who added 10 of her own.
Defensively, the Rockets got a solid performance from Adria Pryor with 15 digs. Pryor also led the team with 38 assists.
Ohio once again had three different players with double digit kills, something that Liis Kullerkann stressed after the game, “We knew we needed a balanced attack going into the game so they couldn’t just focus on one of us. We are confident every time someone may be having an off day that we have other girls to step in.”
Kullerkann played a solid game, with the second-most kills on the team with 14, as Lamberti’s 18 led the way for the Bobcats. Karin Bull had 13 and Katie Horton and Abby Gilleland just missed double digits with seven kills each.
Defensively, it was once again a balanced attack that led the way for another win. Mallory Salis and Meredith Ashy led the team with 16 kills each and Gilleland had 12.
“Mer [Meredith Ashy] and I are kind of the same player, we never want to see the ball hit the ground and we work hard,” Salis said after the game. “Defense is my favorite part of the game and it’s what I like playing and that’s my role as a player.”
It was another win for the Bobcats in dominating fashion. In 15 of their 16 wins this season they have lost just 1 set or fewer.
Ohio now sits at 16-3 (6-1 MAC) and will now face their best competition in the division when they battle MAC West foe Ball State (18-4, 6-1 MAC) tonight at home.