Volleyball clinches MAC East with wild win in Bowling Green

It was easy to overlook Friday’s volleyball matchup as Ohio traveled to Bowling Green. But the Falcons came in just 2 games back of Ohio in the eastern part of the MAC. A loss for Ohio meant just a slim one-game lead on BGSU and a win meant a three-game lead in the division with just three games left.

The Falcons put up a great fight, but the Green and White prevailed in the end in a one of the best matches in MAC play this year by the score of 3-2 (25-20,21-25,19-25, 28-26, 15-11).

The Bobcats first set win was highlighted by an early 5-0 run to set the tempo early. The Falcons were able to chip away at an early deficit and tie the set at 13 each before the Green and White pulled away. Katie Horton racked up a team leading 7 kills in the set which included the final point to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead in the match.

Bowling Green was able to control the 2nd set and jump out to a commanding 17-8 lead, thanks to sloppy play by Ohio. They committed 8 total errors before burning a timeout. The Bobcats were able to make a great attempt at a comeback, cutting the Falcon lead to 22-20, but three of the last four points went to BGSU and Danielle Tonyan’s kill ended the set at a 25-21 score and tied the match 1-1 going into the halftime break.

Bowling Green continued their hot streak in the third game, going on a 9-3 run to take an 18-12 lead in the set. The Bobcats once again fell short of a comeback in the set as they chipped away at the lead and cut it to 4. But they would surrender six of the next ten points as Jelena Sunjic’s spike dropped just inside the back line to give the Falcons the set 25-19 and a 2-1 lead in the match.

Ohio was on the ropes and facing elimination in the fourth set. After the Bobcats jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, the rest of the game was neck and neck. Neither team was able to have a dominating run like in the first three sets. Neither team held a lead that exceeded two points throughout the rest of the set. One point away from a loss, Liis Kullerkann had a big block on a Lindsey Butterfield kill to tie the set at 25.

Needing to win by two, the Bobcats rallied off three of the sets final four points to win 28-26 and force the match into a final fifth set.

With momentum on their side the Bobcats jumped out to an early 5-1 lead. After cutting the lead to 1, Bowling Green was not able to keep up with Ohio, as Alexis Pinson and Katie Horton blocked the final spike attempt by Laura Avila to win the set 15-11 and take the match.

In the loss, Bowling Green was led offensively by Lindsey Butterfield who had 19 kills and Jelena Sunjic, who had 18 kills of her own.

Defensively the Falcons were led by Laura Avila who had 22 digs.

In the win, Ohio’s offense featured four Bobcats with double-digit kills. Horton led the way with 15, Karin Bull had 14 and Kelly Lamberti and Alexis Pinson each had 12. Abby Gilleland had 51 of Ohio’s 61 assists.

Defensively, five players tallied double-digit digs as Meredith Ashy led the way with 19, Brooke Coleman had 17, Mallory Salis and Lamberti each had 12 and Gilleland had 10 to go along with her big night in the assists column.

It was a huge win for Coach Theis and his team as they moved to 21-4 overall and 11-2 in the MAC. With the win Ohio clinched the MAC East, as they own the tie-breaker with BGSU.

To make things better for the Bobcats, MAC West leader Ball State lost on Thursday to Toledo meaning Ohio controls its own destiny for the top seed in the MAC Tournament. The Bobcats have three games remaining, against Miami, Kent State and Central Michigan.

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