Ohio Volleyball Opens Conference Play With a Win

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Public address announcer Lou Horvath occasionally refears to Ali Lake as “The Great Lake.” On Friday night, Lake was indeed a “Great Lake.”

The Ohio Bobcats (5-8, 1-0) opened Mid-American Conference play with a victory over the Akron Zips (5-8, 0-1) in straight sets (25-15, 25-23, 27-25).

Lake, who had a match high 17 kills, was dominant throughout, especially during the second and third sets, where she had seven kills in each. Perhaps even more impressive than the 17 kills was that she did it on 25 swings and had just three errors.

“I felt really confident. I know Deane [Webb] was telling everyone to get me the ball and it felt good,” Lake said.

But all season long, the problem for the Bobcats has been closing out sets. Ohio led 11-8 in the second set and had all the momentum. Following a Zips timeout, Akron scored six straight points to take a 14-11 lead. Ohio scored seven of the next 11 points to tie the set at 18. A Kat Bloch ace and a Lake kill gave Ohio a 20-18 lead. The two teams traded the next four points until Katie Nelson put down a kill to give Ohio a 23-20 lead. Three straight Zips points tied the set and looked like it would happen again. But a kill by Kosiorek and a solo block by Stephanie Olman ended those thoughts and gave Ohio the set.

“I think it was awesome [to close out the sets] because were struggling so much throughout the preseason,” Kosiorek said. “Just to be able to close out those sets in our first game of MAC play, in front of our fans, it feels great because we were able to execute that.”

Like the second set, the third set was tied at 18. A kill by Simone Miller and an error by the Zips gave Ohio a 20-18 lead. Akron tied the set at 21 after two straight errors by Ohio. Karley Kusan put down a kill to give Akron the lead, by Lake answered right back to tie the set. Back-to-back errors by Akron put Ohio one-point away from winning the match. But Akron would not go away. The Zips tied the match after an error by Katie Nelson. But Nelson redeemed herself on the next point with a kill. An error by Akron and a monster Kosiorek kill gave Ohio the three set victory.

The Bobcats were dominant in the first set, taking a 5-4 lead and not looking back. Ohio went on an 11-6 run to take a 17-10 lead. A Lizzie Stephens kill (seven in the set) gave Ohio a 20-12 lead. Akron fended off one match point but dropped the set.

To go with Lake’s 17 kills, Kosiorek added 10 kills, seven digs and three aces. Stephens had nine and Nelson chipped in seven kills and three blocks. Stephanie Olman dished out 44 assists and Mallory Salis had a team-high 14 digs.

For the Zips, Patience Brown led the way with eight kills. Kayla Gwozdz had six and Madi Baer added five. Brenna Mack had a match high 20 digs.

Ohio returns to action tomorrow against the Buffalo Bulls. The match starts at 7 p.m.