Redshirt senior Jaime Kosiorek goes up for a spike against Northen Illinois in the first round of the MAC tournament. | Bryan Kurp WOUB |

Ohio Volleyball: Bobcats roll over NIU; Advance to MAC quarterfinals

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The last time Ohio and Northern Illinois met on the volleyball court, the Huskies defeated the Bobcats 3-2 on October 20th in a match that lasted two hours and fifty-seven minutes.

On Thursday, it only took one hour and forty-nine minutes for Ohio (13-14) to sweep Northern Illinois (11-21) in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament in Oxford, Ohio.

The Bobcats breezed through the first two sets as they held Northern Illinois to a negative hit percentage.

After the first two sets only lasted 44 minutes combined, an eventful third set was 48 minutes long.

With the Bobcats up 21-18, the Huskies’ head coach Ray Gooden challenged that the ball crossed the tape and an Ohio player made contact with the ball.  NIU won the challenge.

Tia Jimerson and Ohio make quick work of Northern Illinois Thursday night. | Bryan Kurp WOUB |

However, before the whistle was blown, a Northern Illinois player hit the ball to keep it alive.  The ball went over the net and out-of-bounds.  Ohio coach Deane Webb then challenged that Ohio should’ve scored the point because the ball went out-of-bounds — not because of a fourth hit.

After an approximately 15-minute timeout consisting of the officials reviewing the play that saw both teams dancing on their respective benches and players staying loose on the court, Webb won the challenge and Ohio gained the point.

“It was just a really, really odd moment,” Webb said.  “Thankfully we got the point because we clearly needed everything we could get.”

Following that sequence of events, the Huskies rallied to tie the game at 24.  They had four chances to take the set-point and extend the match, but Ohio ultimately won the final set 32-20, the exact same score that NIU defeated the Bobcats by in the fourth set in their marathon match on October 20th.

“I remember it was kind of going back-and-forth,” Bobcats’ senior Jaime Kosiorek said.  “I was like ‘No, They are not winning this one.  They won at our place, now it’s our turn to win this set.’”

“I much rather would’ve won 25-21, just to be clear,” Webb said with a laugh.  “It got a little nuts there for a while, but credit to our kids.  We’ve struggled winning those close sets.  At our place, we had multiple match points and didn’t get it done — tonight we did.”

Kosiorek, playing in her final MAC tournament, finished with a double-double – 11 kills and 10 digs.

“Ever since I was a freshman and sophomore, I was known to be an energy ball,”  Kosiorek said.  “So they refer to me as ‘Postseason Jaime’ because it’s like this alter-ego that I have.”

Stephanie Olman led the team with 14 kills and Tia Jimerson added 12 kills.  On the defensive end, Lizzie Stephens led the way with 17 digs and Simone Miller led the team with four blocks.

Ohio advances to the MAC quarterfinals and will face Ball State on Friday at 7 p.m.  The winner of the match will battle host Miami in the semi-finals on Saturday.