‘Cats Claw Back From 0-2, Beat Virginia In Five

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Ohio came back from a 2-0 deficit to grab its eighth victory of the season Saturday, beating Virginia in five games to win the WKU Invitatoinal (13-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-14, 15-11).

“I’m thrilled that we came back from 0-2,” Ohio coach Ryan Theis said. “Coming into this weekend, we said, you know, the only three sets we had lost all year were in a row, and we did not have a bounce-back win.

“When we were down 0-1, it was, ‘Give us that bounce-back.’ Down, 0-2, it was, ‘Give us that bounce back,’ and we rattled off three straight, so I couldn’t be more proud of our effort.”

With the final set tied at 6, Ohio put together a 5-1 run, highlighted by consecutive Katie Horton kills, to take an 11-7 lead. The lead was enough for Ohio to close out the match.

“Both teams were out there trying to leave everything out there, and we got a lot of points down the stretch and were able to finish,” Theis said. “I learned that we have a team that’s resilient, and that’s the most important thing.”

The Bobcats played a sluggish first set, coming off an upset of No. 21 Western Kentucky hours earlier Saturday afternoon. Ohio fell behind early in the game, and the deficit gradually grew as Virginia put small runs together to get a leg up on the Green and White.

Ohio fought through a much closer second set, but ultimately found itself in a 2-0 hole headed into the locker room.

With their backs against the wall in set three, the Bobcats responded in a big way.

Ohio turned a 12-12 tie into an 18-13 lead midway through the set to take its first significant advantage of the match. Graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson followed a Virginia service error with a  block and a kill to put Ohio up 15-12. Three points later, Pinson scored another kill to make the score 18-13 and force a Virginia timeout.

The Cavaliers clawed back over the next nine points to tie the game at 20, but Ohio won five of the last six points in the game to force a fourth set. The ‘Cats then rode the momentum from the previous game to win the fourth set and prolong the match. Ohio won the final eight points in the set, earning a chance to play a decisive game to 15.

Kelly Lamberti led Ohio with 16 kills on 40 attacks and 14 digs. Senior hitter Liis Kullerkann set a new career high with 14 kills, while Katie Horton racked up 10 kills for the second time on the day.

Freshman Mallory Salis turned in a well-rounded performance with five kills on 12 attempts, nine digs and three service aces.

Ohio has a week to prepare for its next tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it will play three matches in two days against Maryland (7-1), Marshall (4-7) and tournament host No. 7 Michigan (7-1).