Ohio Erases Eastern Michigan, Wins MAC Volleyball Championship

By
Avery T. Jennings

Dateline
Updated Mon, Nov 25, 2013 10:43 am

Ohio Volleyball added a third sweep to its 2013 MAC Tournament resume Sunday, along with an eighth tournament title in program history and an automatic bid to the NCAA Volleyball Championship.

The Bobcats blitzed seven-seed Eastern Michigan in the championship game, 25-15, 25-18, 25-19, extending their consecutive-sets-won streak to 16. The last team to sweep all three matches in the MAC Tournament was Ohio in 2010.

Sophomore libero Meredith Ashy earned Tournament MVP honors after averaging 5.18 digs per set through the tournament. She had 19 digs to bolster the Ohio back line in Sunday's final.

The Bobcats posted a whopping 54 kills (.370 team hitting percentage), while only allowing the Eagles 33 kills (.198).

Veteran outside hitters Kelly Lamberti (who also earned All-Tournament Team honors) and Liis Kullerkann combined for 31 kills on 54 attacks. Freshman Katie Horton added eight kills on a .389 clip.

"Liis and Kelly definitely contributed (in) today's game," Ashy said. "This morning (Ohio head coach Ryan Theis) told (Kullerkann) to get 15 kills ... she got 15 kills. She did an amazing job."

MAC Player of the Year Abby Gilleland had 41 assists (13.67 per set).

Eastern Michigan did not record a single block in the match.

Ohio got its offense going early, jumpinng out to a 7-3 lead in the opening set. The Eagles won two of the next three points to pull within 3, but a quick 7-1 run gave the 'Cats a 9-point advantage. Eastern Michigan came as close as 6 at 19-13 before Ohio took six of the last eight points to win game one.

The Eagles fought in set two, but Ohio opened up a 14-9 lead on a 4-0 run capped by an Alexis Pinson ace. A 4-1 run extended the lead to 23-15, and Ohio closed the set without too much trouble, taking a 2-0 lead into the loker room.

In the third, Ohio took control with another 4-0 run, bringing the score to 11-7. Eastern Michigan continued to battle through the middle of the set, but a final 4-0 run put Ohio ahead 23-16 and all but secured the victory for the Bobcats. Five points later, a kill from All-MAC First Teamer Karin Bull wrapped up another sweep for the Bobcats.

With the win, Ohio guarantees its first bid to the NCAA Volleyball Championship since 2010. Senior Mollie Geske and Kullerkann are the only remaining members from the 2010 squad.

"It's just amazing to repeat it, especially my senior year and after two years of not making it," Kullerkann said. "It's incredible with this group of girls too."

The NCAA Volleyball Championship field of 64 teams will be announced Sunday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

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