Bobcats Battle Back, Beat Bowling Green

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Ohio battled. And Ohio prevailed.

It took five sets, but the Bobcats left little doubt about who the best team in the MAC East is with a 3-2 win (25-20, 21-25, 19-25, 28-26, 15-11) in rival Bowling Green’s shiny Stroh Center Friday, Nov. 8.

“We needed this,” Ohio coach Ryan Theis said.

The coach’s sentiment has some meat to it, as Ohio (21-4, 11-2 MAC) takes over sole possession of first place in the MAC with the win. Second place Ball State (22-6, 10-3) lost Thursday to Toledo (17-10, 10-3) in five sets.

“I tell our team that rings are won on the road,” Theis said. “In the quest for a championship, every win is important.”

The ‘Cats needed extra effort in the fourth set to put the preseason MAC-East favorites away on the road. Down 24-25, Ohio came up with a big block on an attack by Bowling Green’s Lindsey Butterfield. Middle blocker Alexis Pinson and outside hitter Liis Kullerkann combined on the block to extend the match.

Pinson then killed the next point to put Ohio ahead 26-25 and force a Bowling Green timeout.

A long serve by Mallory Salis tied the game again at 26, but Pinson killed again on the ensuing point to put the Bobcats up 1.

A Falcons attack error ended the set and extended the match to a decisive fifth game.

The momentum carried into the fifth set for Ohio, who grabbed a 5-1 lead and forced a Falcons timeout. Bowling Green pulled within 1 at 10-9, but Ohio won five of the next seven points to close out the match.

Pinson had 12 kills and seven blocks (one solo) in the match. Fellow middle blocker Karin Bull matched her stride for stride with 14 kills and six blocks.

Freshman outside hitter Katie Horton set a new career high with 15 kills and added six blocks as Ohio’s leading scorer.

“We tried to stick together as a team,” Horton said. She added that playing in Bowling Green’s Stroh Center was difficult. “It’s nerve-wracking of course … but we pulled together as a team.”

Ohio got off to a good start, as Horton’s six first-set kills powered the Green and White to a 1-0 lead. Bowling Green (12-13, 8-5) responded by building comfortable leads in the second and third sets. Down 2-1, Ohio needed to win the fourth game to extend the match.

“This was a great win because of the relentlessness our team showed,” Theis said.

Ohio takes on Miami (OH) in Oxford Saturday in its final MAC road game of the season.