Ohio Volleyball Wins MAC Opener

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The Ohio volleyball team started its MAC title defense with a win Friday, downing Buffalo in four sets on the road, 25-17, 20-25, 26-24, 25-12.

With the match tied at one set apiece, Ohio (11-2, 1-0 MAC) held off two Buffalo comeback attempts in the third set to take a 2-1 advantage. The Bobcats took a 5-0 lead in the third game, forcing a Bulls timeout, but Buffalo (12-2, 0-1) won five of the next six points to quickly draw within 1.

Ohio again surged ahead late in the set, using a 9-4 run to take a 24-19 lead. But Buffalo responded by winning the next five points to tie the game at 24. During the Bulls’ second comeback, Ohio coach Ryan Theis called both of his timeouts.

At 24-all, Ohio freshman utility player Mallory Salis attacked an Abby Gilleland set out of the back row for a kill to again put Ohio within a point of winning the game. On the next volley, junior Kelly Lamberti tapped Gilleland’s assist over the outstretched arms of the Buffalo blockers and found the floor to put Ohio up, 2 games to 1.

The Bobcats went on to dominate the fifth set, winning 17 of 25 points on service (.680).

Lamberti led Ohio with 13 kills and chipped in 11 digs. Senior outside hitter Liis Kullerkann added 12 kills, and five other Bobcats had at least four points.

Gilleland turned in an all-around performance with 36 assists, 17 digs, five kills and two service aces.

Graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson led the Ohio defensive effort at the net with seven block assists.

Ohio is now 30-2 all time against Buffalo.

Buffalo struggled to limit its errors Friday night. The Bulls hit just .075 on 161 attempts with 36 attack errors. Buffalo also registered five service errors and six return errors in its second loss of the season.

Buffalo has lost two consecutive matches after starting the season 12-0.

Ohio will play at Akron (6-6, 0-1) Saturday at 5 p.m. Buffalo will play host to Kent State (7-6, 1-0) at 7:30. The Golden Flashes defeated Akron in five sets Friday.