Volleyball: Ohio Loses to Northern Illinois in MAC Tournament

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Coming off a three-set win against Ball State in the first round of the MAC Tournament, the No. 1 seeded Ohio University Bobcats (20-10, 14-3) volleyball team took to the semifinals in hopes of defeating the No. 4 seeded Northern Illinois Huskies (21-13, 11-6) and advancing to the MAC Tournament Championship game Sunday afternoon. The Bobcats fell to the Huskies in five sets: 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, and 11-15.

The swing of momentum came in the third set where the Huskies were too much to handle for the Bobcats.

After trailing 9-8 to the ‘Cats, the Huskies regained the lead at 11-9 and forced an Ohio University timeout. The ‘Cats got the ensuing point following the timeout. However, the Huskies would rally off the next five points, forcing another Bobcats timeout as they trailed 16-10. Ohio showed fight at the end of the set, but the Huskies had built too large of a lead and took set three. 

In the fourth set, the Bobcats were put to the test yet again in a nail-biting semifinal matchup. The set was close-knit the entire time and the ‘Cats had the advantage 22-20 late. The Bobcats fell in this set, as well as the Huskies were able to rally off five straight points to tie things up at two games apiece.

Having won two consecutive sets, the Huskies entered the fifth and final set with the momentum on their side. The contest was back-and-forth again, but the Huskies bested the Bobcats 15-11 to advance to the MAC Tournament Championship game Sunday.

The Huskies began their play with high intensity that gave the Bobcats trouble throughout the first set and the rest of the match. The Bobcats led 23-21 late in the first. However, Northern Illinois notched two consecutive points and tied the score for the tenth time of the set, forcing a Bobcats timeout. The timeout allowed the ‘Cats to regroup, and they were able to take the lead with a kill from senior hitter Faith Robins and walk away with the 1-0 advantage after an attack error by Northern Illinois.

The well-fought matchup for both teams gave the crowd a thriller of a semifinal match to watch. Freshman setter Abby Gilleland finished the match with a season-high 53 assists while adding 14 digs. Sophomore hitter Chelsea Bilger closed with 20 kills, as sophomore hitter Kelly Lamberti added another 19 kills, as well as a team high 25 digs. Both teams finished with 66 kills, but the Bobcats hit only .161 from the court.

The youth of the Bobcats got to them and the Huskies took the win, splitting the season with the ‘Cats 1-1. The Huskies advance to play for the MAC Tournament title Sunday with the Bobcats season ending in disappointment.