Volleyball: Ohio survives Kent State

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The Ohio Bobcats rallied from a 2-1 game deficit to defeat the Kent State Golden Flashes 22-25, 25-12, 19-25, 25-17, 15-11.

Stud freshman Kelly Lamberti led the way with 18 kills and 3 service aces, and setter Bailey Karst added 51 assists to lead the Bobcats.

It was a Jekyll and Hyde match for the Ohio Volleyball team. It seemed they were a different team from game to game.

Ohio started the match sluggish in game one. 2 service errors by the Bobcats and 2 aces by Kent’s Bridget Grdina exemplified Ohio’s sloppy play. The Bobcats fell into a hole at 6-2 and never recovered.

After clinching the MAC East last week and coming off a short week, the struggling Golden Flashes seemed poised to steal the match from a distracted Bobcats team.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but I do think [the short week] was a factor,” said Coach Ryan Theis. “Thursdays are big class days for us. [The team] has been up since 7, so if I had to do it over, I probably wouldn’t have had us practice.”

However, senior Katie Post wasn’t worried about falling into a trap.

“We’re focused on trying to get good seeding for the MAC Tournament,” she said. “That’s definitely number one on our minds.”

Ohio seemed to right the ship in game two. Great defense and spectacular digs allowed the Bobcats to jump out to an early 11-5 lead. Post added three kills and Ohio never looked back, winning the set 25-12.

“We just needed to be able to kill the ball right away, stay in the rally, and get kills in transition,” said Post on the improvement from games one to two.

However, the Green and White regressed in the third game. Unable to build on the momentum gained in game two, Ohio again had trouble finding the court on attacks and serves, and Kent’s Tin Aderemi-Ibitola added 5 kills. Relying on soft touches and an out of position Bobcat defense, the Flashes took the game 25-19.

“They’re skilled at moving the ball around,” said Theis of the Kent State offense. “Were not good at that. I give Kent State credit for picking on us.”

The momentum shifted in game four. Down 6-3 early, the Bobcats got 4 straight points, including an ace by Karst. In a blink of an eye, Ohio had taken the lead, and would not look back. Lexie Hartnett had 5 kills down the stretch, including the game point, and Ohio took the set 25-17.

“We’re a very resilient group,” said Theis. “But sometimes if we struggle at the beginning of the set it sticks with us. I tried to knip that in the bud with a time out when we were down 6-3.”

The final game was started off with both teams trading points. But it was a three-point swing, including a kill and an ace by Lamberti, which put the ‘Cats up 7-4 nail in Kent’s coffin. With the crowd on its feet, Hartnett recorded the final kill of the night, at Ohio took the match 15-11.

“Being down two games to one and playing well in the last two sets was good,” said Theis. “We’ve never done that before. I was really happy with the way we played in four and five.”