Ohio Volleyball celebrates after scoring a point (Ben Wielgopolski WOUB)

Ohio Volleyball: Bobcats Suffer First Mac Loss in Five-Set Battle with Buffalo

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Buffalo came into Athens looking for their first win in the MAC while Ohio was trying to stay perfect in MAC play. The two teams came to play, with both teams totaling exactly 105 points in a highly contested MAC game.

Buffalo (9-6, 1-2) got that elusive first conference victory, upsetting the Bobcats (7-9, 2-1) 25-22, 17-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-9.

Andrea Mitrovic was the difference for the Bulls dominating all night. Mitrovic came into the match second in the conference in kills per set, but her 25 kills crushed the Ohio defense all night.

“She is one of my favorite players in the conference not on our team, just an outstanding player and I really think a lot of her.” Webb said. “I think we needed to do a better job defending her in the back row, she’s going to get hers in the front but we have to do a better job in the back.”

Ohio had a balanced offensive attack, four Bobcats ended the match with double digit kills. Lizzie Stephens and Jaime Kosiorek had 15 kills to lead the Bobcats offensively. Setting those kills up was Vera Giacomazzi, who ended the match with 53 assists. Giacomazzi continued her streak of having 40 or more assists in every MAC game this season.

Buffalo stole the first set against the Bobcats 25-22. The Bobcats struggled as a team offensively with a hit % of .256 and four service errors. The Bulls took control during a six point streak to take a 14-7 lead and Ohio was unable to get within two points the rest of the set. The Bobcats defense was unable to slow down Mitrovic and Megan Wernette, the two combined for 12 kills on a .476 hit %.

The Bobcats came right back in the second set though, taking that one from the Bulls 25-17. Ohio’s defense did a much better job slowing down Mitrovic and Wernette, holding those two to six second set kills. Macy Reihing had six digs in the set, leading the Bobcats defense.

Ohio had a much better second set attacking wise, the Bobcats improved their hit percentage from .256 to .375. This offensive success was a group effort, Stephens and Katie Nelson had three kills, while Kosiorek, Januszewski, and Giacomazzi had two kills. The Bobcats defense also caused problems for the Bulls attackers, forcing eight attack errors in the set.

Ohio and Buffalo battled through a competitive third set, but the Bobcats were able to come out on top 25-22. Stephens paced the Bobcats offense with two kills and two aces in the set. Once again Ohio dominated defensively, holding the Bulls offense to 10 kills to six attack errors.

Buffalo was able to force a deciding fifth set by taking the fourth set 26-24. The fourth set was very even from both sides, Buffalo had 17 kills to five attack errors compared to Ohio’s 16 kills and four attack errors. Ohio had to really work defensively with 23 digs in the fourth set alone, Meredith Howe led the Bobcats defense with six digs.

The fifth and final set was all Buffalo though, the Bulls had nine kills in the set, with a hit percentage of .438 to close the game. Ohio made too many mental mistakes in the deciding set and it ended up costing the Bobcats in the end.

Ohio came into the match avergiging 2.21 blocks per set and Simone Miller led the conference with 1.41 blocks per set. Ohio was unable to use this blocking advantage throughout the match, being held to seven blocks in five sets, with Miller only getting five.

“The Buffalo hitters moved around well but there were times where we missed some opportunities.” Webb said. “We need to be quicker with our eyes and hands and there were times when they took advantage of us having a setter front row.”

The Bobcats are back in action at the Convocation Center on Saturday as they will look to get back to winning ways against Akron (8-6, 0-3) at 6 PM. Ohio will get their chance at revenge against Buffalo on Nov. 3.