Bobcats Best Kent, Clinch MAC Title Share

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Ohio Volleyball clinched at least a share of a second straight MAC regular season championship Thursday with a fast and easy win over Kent State, 25-13, 25-15, 25-17.

“We’re looking at every game as a must-win now,” graduate middle blocker Alexis Pinson said. “We’re trying to get in postseason mode.”

Thursday was a big night for the Bobcats, and they did little to disappoint.

The win guarantees Ohio the No. 1 seed in next week’s MAC Tournament. It also gives Ohio the right to host the 2014 MAC Championship – the tournament is implementing a new format where the defending regular season champ hosts, beginning next season.

Thursday’s match also served as Ohio’s first-ever televised game.

The Bobcats fell at the hands of the Golden Flashes on Oct. 10 in Kent. The Blue and Gold handed then-No. 18 Ohio its first MAC loss and knocked the Green and White out of the AVCA Coaches Poll.

Ohio wasted no time proving that first meeting a fluke.

The ‘Cats raced out to an 11-5 lead, forcing the Flashes to burn their first timeout. Ohio continued to put pressure on its opponents after the stoppage, winning the next three points.

Kent closed the gap to 14-7 after taking a couple points of its own, but a Flashes service error gave Ohio side out and momentum.

Setter Abby Gilleland placed back-to-back kills on the floor to fuel an 8-1 run which gave Ohio a 22-8 advantage. The Golden Flashes made a futile 4-0 run to make the score more respectable before the Bobcats closed the book on set one.

A Karin Bull kill and Brooke Coleman ace set the tone for set two.

The two teams traded points to a 10-8 Ohio advantage before Kelly Lamberti sparked another mini-run with a kill.

Ohio won three of the next four points to take a 14-9 lead and force a Kent timeout. The Bobcats coasted ahead to a 22-12 advantage and eventually took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.

Kent provided Ohio’s biggest challenge in set three, hanging 17 points in a losing effort.

Gilleland had a solid 34 assists and six kills. Pinson led Ohio in scoring with seven kills, three block assists and a service ace. Seven players had between 7 and 9.5 points; no Bobcat reached the double-digit point mark.

“On a night like tonight when everybody’s efficient, it’s like clockwork,” Theis said. “Everybody did a good job tonight, hence the scores.”

Thursday’s three-setter was a nice change of pace for head coach Ryan Theis and company. Ohio won just four conference matches in straight sets this season, compared to 10 3-0 wins during last season’s 14-2 MAC campaign.

“Each week we had to come out and fight and earn it,” Gilleland said.

The Bobcats are a win away from matching last season’s MAC record.

Ohio takes on Central Michigan Saturday night to end the regular season. The match will serve as Ohio’s senior night.