Ohio Volleyball Opens FGCU Invitational With 3-1 Win

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Ohio volleyball started the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational on a high note with a victory over Florida Atlantic Friday afternoon in for sets, 3-1 (25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20). The win moves the Bobcats to 8-3 to start the year and gave Ohio its first win in its first meeting with FAU.

The ‘Cats put the game away handedly with a strong team effort in the fourth set. Leading 24-20, Abby Gilleland had her 37th and final assist of the match as she set up Ali Lake for the kill to ice the win. After jumping out to a 6-3 lead in the fourth, Florida Atlantic called time hoping to slow the roll of Ohio. It did not do much as Ohio never let the Owls come within anything closer than three from that point on as it closed out the match and set 25-20.

In the first set Florida Atlantic showed early life taking the first three points on three straight kills. But then Ohio seemed to awake from a little pregame slumber and the ‘Cats reeled off seven straight points, five of those points coming on Owl errors. Ohio continued to lead, but then with the score 15-10 Florida Atlantic was able to string together a streak of five straight kills, three of those from Brittney Brown, to tie things up at 15-15.

Ohio took a timeout, and coming out of the break Maja Ristic added another kill for FAU to go up 16-15. Whatever coach Deane Webb said in that timeout seemed to make an impact. After losing the lead Ohio went on to win 10 of the next 14 points, three of those points coming on Mallory Salis kills, and they won the set 25-20.

The second set was much different from the first as both teams hit almost .100 points lower than in the first. Florida Atlantic made a team total of 10 errors in the set while only converting nine kills. Those mistakes really allowed Ohio to capitalize, as strong defensive efforts by the ‘Cats created longer points presenting more opportunities for FAU to make mistakes.  Ohio went on to win the second set 25-22, although it was much closer than the score suggested.

The third set for Ohio mirrored the struggles that Florida Atlantic had in the second. The Bobcats had plenty of opportunities, but they just made too many mistakes when they had an opportunity to convert.  They kept it tight throughout, but FAU just wouldn’t be sunk in three, and the Owls forced a fourth set by taking a big 6-0 lead at the start and hanging on at the end 25-23.

Next for Ohio are two contests against Florida Gulf Coast University, the host of this weekend’s invitational.  The teams play Friday night at 7 p.m., and again Saturday night at 6 p.m. The teams have never met. FGCU is 7-4 on the year, and lost to Florida Atlantic Thursday night in four sets.