By Mike Ashcraft
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Ohio volleyball team (6-3) opened the Jefferson Cup presented by Fairfield Inn & Suites with a 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-21, 25-23) victory over Howard (1-7) on Friday (Sept. 8) at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Bobcats hit .246 (56 kills-21 errors-142 total attacks) and finished the match with seven service aces.
"Howard is one of the more athletic teams we've played this year," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "Thankfully, we were able to serve well enough to limit some of their options."
Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit. 400 and finished the match with a team-high 17 kills. She also tallied two assisted blocks and two digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) added 16 kills and hit at a .310 clip. She recorded her fifth double-double of the year with a team-high 14 digs and also added a service and an assist.
"Lizzie played four sets and had zero unforced errors," said Webb. "Proud of the attention she paid to her angles and work in transition."
Sophomore middle blocker Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) recorded a .320 hitting percentage with 12 kills. She finished with double-digit kills for the second time in the last three matches.
Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) led the match with 47 assists and three service aces. She also finished with an assisted block and five digs.
Sophomore outside hitter/libero Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.) contributed 11 digs, two service aces and a kill. Sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) posted 11 digs, a kill and an assist. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) logged nine digs, a service ace and four assists.
"Good job by our passers getting us in system enough to win the middle battle," said Webb.
The Bobcats opened the match with a nine-point win in the first set, hitting .387 with 17 kills. Ohio broke an 11-all tie with an 8-4 run to take a 19-15 lead, with Stephens, Januszewski and sophomore setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) each posting kills during the spurt. A kill by senior outside hitter Khaila Donaldson and a Bobcat attack error cut Ohio's lead to two. The 'Cats finished off the set with a 6-2 run, though, as two kills and a service ace by Stephens, two kills by Januszewski and a kill by Jimerson helped Ohio take a 1-0 lead in the match. Januszewski finished the opening set with six kills.
The Bison bounced back with a victory in the second set to even the match. Howard hit at a .276 rate with 13 kills and held Ohio to a .067 (nine kills-seven errors-30 total attacks) hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Courtney Dalton posted four kills in the set while sophomore middle blocker Kira Porter tallied three.
Howard grabbed an early 6-3 lead in the third set thanks in large part to two kills by junior middle blocker Olubunmi Okunade and a service ace by Porter. The Bobcats grabbed the lead back, though, thanks to a double block by Jimerson and Olman, a kill by Jimerson and Stephens and a service ace by Vaughn. Ohio never gave up the lead, as Jimerson and Stephens finished the set with five kills apiece while Vaughn provided two service aces.
The Bison looked to force a fifth set as they grabbed a 13-9 advantage to start the fourth, utilizing three kills by Donaldson, a solo block by Okunade and a double block by Porter and junior setter Tamia Dockery. Ohio clawed back and tied the set up at 16-all, though, using back-to-back service aces by Giacomazzi and kills by Stephens and Jimerson to spark the rally. Howard took a 20-18 lead with two kills by Donaldson and kills by Porter and Dockery. Stephens came up with three kills to tie things up at 21-all for Ohio, however. The Bobcats then won the match on back-to-back attack errors and kills by Januszewski and Olman.
Donaldson led Howard with a match-high 18 kills. She also had an assisted block and two assists and nearly finished with a double-double with nine digs. Dalton finished with nine kills, hitting .304. She also tallied an assisted block and a dig. Porter logged a .471 hitting percentage with eight kills. She also had three assisted blocks, two service aces and a dig. Senior outside hitter Jessica Young added eight kills, two service aces, three total blocks (one solo, two assisted) and a dig. Okunade led the match with six total blocks (two solo, four assisted) and also recorded four kills and a dig. Dockery dished out a team-high 39 assists and achieved a double-double with 11 digs. She also had three kills and three assisted blocks. Freshman libero Fola Wilson led the Bison with 15 digs and also chipped in a service ace and four assists.
Ohio will face VCU (7-2) at 9:30 a.m. ET and host Virginia (3-4) at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday (Sept. 9). The Rams swept the Cavaliers 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21) on Friday night.