Ohio Volleyball Claims MAC Regular Season Title

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Ohio Volleyball won its last regular season game of the year, and in doing so it also claimed at least a share of the MAC regular season title. The Bobcats took tonight’s match against Akron in four sets, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21, 25-15.  Sophomore Kelly Lamberti led the way for the Bobcats, as she was at the center of nearly every important moment.

“To win the regular season means a lot,” said head coach Ryan Theis. “It means over a period of time we played the best in the league and our team is hopefully celebrating now.”

Ohio went up 4-0 on the Zips early in the first set, aided by two Lamberti kills. A block by senior Faith Robins and sophomore Serena Warner put the ‘Cats up 10-5. Ohio extended its lead to eight points when another Lamberti kill put it up 17-9 over the Zips. Akron would not go quietly, as they went on a 6-3 run to set the score at 20-17. Ohio regrouped after a timeout, and won the set 25-22 yet another kill by Lamberti.

Lamberti had 21 kills, and shot .386 on the night.

Like in the first set, the Bobcats scored the first points of the second set to go up 2-0. A 6-1 run by the Zips that included three kills by Tina Dimitrijevs put Akron up 6-3. The Green and White came up with a run of their own to go up 10-7 on the Zips. Akron kept close to Ohio, and was able to take the lead at 18-17 on a service ace. Following a tie at 19-19, Akron took control of the set and won it at 25-21 on a kill by Dimitrijevs.

“I thought Tina Dimitrijevs, their middle hitter, just owned us,” said Theis of the Akron player’s performance.

Dimitrijevs had 17 kills on the night, nine in the second set.

 “It's really rare to see nine kills out of the middle in a single game and she did it…it's tough to win when a kid's playing that great against you,” said Theis.

The third set started as those that preceded it, as Ohio scored the first three points of the set. The Bobcats led 5-1 following an Akron attack error. The Zips managed to tie the set at 9-9, but unfortunately for them, they were never able to grab the lead in the set. Ohio’s largest lead of the set came at 21-15 on a Lamberti kill. Akron brought the score close at 24-21, which forced Ohio into a timeout. A kill by sophomore Chelsea Bilger won the set for Ohio, 25-21.

The start of the third set marked the point when the Bobcat defense picked up their intensity. 10 of their 13 blocks came in the final two sets.

 “I think we've become very good defensively as a group,” said Theis. “We're pretty tough to score on when our defense is rolling.”

The Zips were the first to score in the fourth set, but the Bobcats quickly took the lead at 3-2 on an Akron error. Following a 5-5 tie, Ohio went up 6-5 on a Lamberti kill that gave the Bobcats the lead for good. Leading up to a score of 11-8 Akron never fell behind by more than three points. Following that score, the ‘Cats went on a 7-1 run that put them ahead of the Zips 18-9. Ohio took its biggest lead of the night at 22-12 after a kill by Lamberti. A Chelsea Bilger kill won the match at 25-15.

Next on the schedule for the Bobcats is the MAC tournament.  It seems like Coach Theis likes his team’s chances, as long as their defensive effort remains at the level they played tonight. 

Theis said, “The biggest thing coming down the stretch for the conference tournament is going to be our offense.

“Hopefully we keep it rolling, hopefully if we keep siding out, if we do that, we should be okay.”