Sophomore Katie Nelson serves the ball to Western Michigan on October 22, 2106. (Robert McGraw/WOUB)

Ohio Volleyball Drops Conference Opener

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After spending the last month traveling all over the country to compete in weekend invitationals and facing some of the best schools around, the Ohio volleyball team (6-9, 0-1 MAC) looked to open up conference play with a W Friday night against East Division Rival Buffalo (8-4, 1-0 MAC).

After Losing five of their last six, OU looked destined to take this one and snap their streak of bad luck after taking the opening set, however, the team would eventually succumb to Buffalo’s talented front row, losing the following three and dropping their first game of league play this season.

Things looked good for the Bobcats in the first set thanks for Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson who notched in a service ace along with kills by redshirt Senior Ali Lake and Junior outside hitter/setter Stephanie Olman. After the set reached 10-all, it was all but a game of streaks. After taking the next five out of six points, Buffalo would go on a run themselves, going 8-3. Down 19-18, OU would finish the set on a 7-2 run, with Olman and Jimerson stepping up big and tallying two kills each, along with another service ace, this time from Sophomore libero Meredith Howe. The Bobcats hit .235 that set with 13 kills, while also limiting the Bulls to. 167 percent.

OU once again looked to have the advantage early on when Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens knocked in her fourth kill of the set, making it 14-9. However, things began to get progressively worse for the Bobcats when Buffalo went on 9-1 run. During this run, it was Buffalo’s own Polina Prokudina and Megan Wernette who earned a kill a piece during this run as well as a service from Larra Bickelhaupt, with the remaining points coming from attack and service errors on behalf of OU. Down by three, answered back by going on a 6-2 run to take a 21-20 advantage. However, it was Buffalo’s Andrea Mitrovic who gave the Bull’s the set in the end, tallying up three kills to make it 1-1.

From there, things began to get progressively worse for the Bobcats as Buffalo took their momentum from the previous set and used it to pull away fast from the Bobcats without giving them a chance to catch up. After going up 2-1 off a kill from Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi, Buffalo would go on a 15-4 run, making it 16-6. Despite going on a 6-2 run in the end, by then it was already over with the Bulls taking the third set with an 11-point advantage, 25-14. Jimerson and Stephens alone gave OU half of their points that set, with four kills coming from the Freshman middle blocker.

Going into set number four, OU made sure to keep it a lot closer this time, even leading at one point 9-8 after Jimerson tacked on her third straight kill. From there however, Buffalo would go on a 10-4 run, slowly distancing themselves further from the Bobcats all the way to end, which Buffalo would take 25-17, giving the Bulls a 3-1 victory and an opening night win in league play.

The Bobcats finished the night hitting .168 (45 kills-24 errors-125 total attacks) while their opponents ended with a .269 (56 kills-21 errors-130 total attacks) pecent. Despite a strong performance from Jimerson, who tied the team with 13 kills along with counterpart Lizzie Stephens, the rest of the team couldn’t reciprocate.

The Bobcats, who have now lost five of their last six, will try and find an answer Saturday night when they travel to Akron to take on the Zips in another East Division showdown.