Volleyball: Hartnett’s Quick Start Sparks ‘Cats

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Quick starts seemed to be a theme for the Ohio volleyball team Friday night.

Lexie Hartnett’s first set performance propelled the Ohio Bobcats over the Bowling Green Falcons in straight sets 25-17, 25-19, 28-26 Friday at the Convocation Center. Ohio jumped out to a two-set lead and held on in a wild final set that featured a four-point Bobcat comeback and four match points.

“We tend to be pretty good at staying in [the game} like that,” said freshman Chelsea Bilger (10 kills, 9 digs).

“I was especially pleased with pushing back to be able finish in 3,” coach Ryan Theis said.

Ohio (9-6, 1-0 MAC), fired up after the unveiling of the 2010 MAC Tournament championship banner, made quick work of Bowling Green in set one. Lexie Hartnett powered them to an early 12-4 lead with three blocks and three kills in the set. Bowling Green never recovered, and Ohio won the set 25-17.

“It’s a team sport. We definitely have to play well as a team. When the passes are good, the sets are good,” Hartnett said of her fast start.

The Falcons hung with the Bobcats in the second set – at least initially. A marathon volley won by Bowling Green pulled the Falcons within one halfway through the set. Not to be denied, Hartnett sparked the Bobcats with two kills and an ace by Mollie Geske put Ohio up for good, and they took the set 25-19.

The win was especially important for the Bobcats, who began their 2010 MAC title defense with a win against a previously unbeaten Bowling Green team.

“Bowling Green was probably one of the last five teams in the country to be undefeated,” Theis said. “They’re a good team. They didn’t play as well as they could have tonight. I would expect an absolute burner when we go to their place the next time.”

Ohio’s tough early schedule prepared them for the untested Falcons (12-1, 0-1 MAC).

“We really learned a lot about ourselves,” Hartnett said. “Learning about ourselves helps us going into MAC season knowing what we need to work on and improve on. It really helps us get our game together.”

The Bobcats are right back at it Saturday with the Dig Pink breast cancer awareness game against rival Miami at the Convo. Theis knows the rivalry game will be no cakewalk.

“The rivalry is fierce, I know they don’t like us very much…[our freshman] are going to learn first hand how to have a rivalry.”

As for another MAC championship?

“We’re ready to have another one,” Hartnett said.