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Ohio Volleyball Picks Up Key Road Win At Northern Illinois

Ohio Volleyball Picks Up Key Road Win At Northern Illinois

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Box Score (PDF)

By Mike Ashcraft
OhioBobcats.com

DEKALB, Ill. -- The Ohio volleyball team (11-12, 5-4 MAC) opened the second half of 2017 Mid-American Conference play by picking up a key 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20) road win over West Division foe Northern Illinois (5-19, 4-5 MAC) on Friday (Oct. 20) at Victor E. Court.

The Bobcats picked up their second win in a row and earned their first victory over the Huskies in DeKalb since 2013.

Ohio hit .234 with 60 kills in the win and took advantage of 14 service errors and eight blocking errors by Northern Illinois.

"We committed more unforced attacking errors than we would have liked, but we were also attacking terminally," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "Our goal is to keep the kill percentage high as we work to lower our error rate in the coming weeks. We're looking forward to another opportunity to grow and improve tomorrow."

Sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas) paced the Bobcats with a match-high 20 kills and hit .333. She tallied at least 20 kills for the third time this year and has posted double-digit kills a team-high 19 times for Ohio in 2017 -- including in 12 of the last 13 matches. Stephens also recorded four service aces to tie for the match lead, bringing her season total to 44, which is tied for the fifth most in a single season in the rally scoring era of the program history. She also finished Friday's match with an assisted block and five digs. Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Ga.) hit .381 and provided Ohio with 12 kills. She also added an assisted block, an assist and a dig. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) recorded 11 kills and had an assisted block and a dig. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) finished with eight kills, a team-high two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) and a dig. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Carley Remmers (Filley, Neb.) compiled eight kills, a service ace and an assisted block and nearly achieved a double-double with 10 digs. Sophomore libero Meredith Howe (Grand Rapids, Mich.) matched Stephens for the match lead with a career-high four service aces. She also had an assist and 13 digs. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) distributed a match-high 53 assists and also had a kill and seven digs. She has tallied 50 or more assists seven times this season. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) led the match with 22 digs ans also chipped in a service ace and two assists.

"We served and passed well throughout the match, particularly Mere and Lizzie," said Webb.

Ohio set the tone for the match by hitting .310 in the opening set en route to a seven-point triumph. The Bobcats broke an eight-all tie with a solo block by Januszewski and never looked back. After an Ohio service error allowed the Huskies to cut the Bobcats' lead down to two at 13-11, Ohio responded with a 6-2 run to take a 19-13 advantage, utilizing two kills by Remmers, kills by Januszewski and Jimerson and a service ace by Reihing. A double block by senior setter Chandler Kinley and junior middle blocker Meg Wolowicz, a kill by freshman outside hitter Jori Radtke and a service ace by freshman right side hitter/middle blocker Maddy Katchen cut Ohio's edge down to three at 20-17 for Northern Illinois, but the Bobcats grabbed the 1-0 match lead courtesy of kills by Giacomazzi, Olman and Stephens and a solo block by Remmers. 

The Bobcats took a 2-0 match lead thanks in large part to six kills and no errors by Jimerson, five kills and an assisted block by Stephens, four kills by Olman and two service aces by Howe. Northern Illinois jumped out to a 15-10 lead thanks to three kills by freshman outside hitter Kaylee Martin and kills by Radtke, Wolowicz and senior outside hitter Taylor Krage. The Bobcats responded with a 9-3 run powered by three kills by Stephens, back-to-back service aces by Howe and kills by Olman and Jimerson to give Ohio a 19-18 edge. It appeared as though the Huskies were on their way to evening the match after kills by Martin and Wolowicz and a double block by Wolowicz and Martin helped make it 23-21 in favor of Northern Illinois. Ohio stunned the Huskies, though, by rallying to win the set after a service error by Northern Illinois, kills by Stephens and Jimerson and an attack error by the Huskies gave the Bobcats four-straight points and a 2-0 match lead.

It appeared as though the Bobcats were on their way to a sweep in the third set. Kills by Remmers and Stephens and a service ace by Remmers gave Ohio a 10-6 lead. Another kill by Martin trimmed Ohio's lead to two at 12-10, but the Bobcats scored eight of the next 14 points to take a 20-16 lead, taking advantage of two kills and a service ace by Stephens and kills by Olman and Jimerson. A service ace by senior defensive specialist/libero Anna Brereton made it a one-point set, but a kill by Stephens and an attack error by the Huskies made it 23-20 in favor of Ohio. The Bobcats could not seal the sweep, though, as two kills by Martin, a kill by Wolowicz and a double block by Wolowicz and Martin gave Northern Illinois five-straight points and a two-point set win.

A kill by Martin, a service ace by Krage and a kill by Wolowicz helped give Northern Illinois a 6-5 lead to open the fourth set, but a service error by the Huskies and a kill by Jimerson put Ohio in front, and the Bobcats never trailed the rest of the match. Kills by Jimerson and Stephens made it 17-14 in favor of Ohio, but kills by redshirt junior middle blocker Chrystal McAlpin and sophomore middle blocker/right side hitter Brinley Milbrath helped Northern tie it up at 17-all. That's as close as the Huskies got, though, as three kills apiece from Stephens and Januszewski and two kills by Olman helped the Bobcats clinch the four-set triumph. Stephens hit .385 with seven kills and a service ace in the fourth set while Jaunszewski posted four kills and Jimerson, Olman and Remmers each added three. 

Martin led Northern Illinois with 13 kills and hit .297 and achieved a double-double with a team-high 10 digs. She also two assisted blocks and an assist. Wolowicz hit .391 with 11 kills and tallied a match-high three assisted blocks. She also chipped in four digs. Kinley led the Huskies with 32 assists and also posted two kills, two assisted blocks and six digs.

Ohio looks to make it three victories in a row when it visits Western Michigan (12-7, 4-4 MAC) on Saturday (Oct. 21) at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. The contest will begin at 7 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on ESPN3. The Broncos opened the fifth weekend of MAC play by earning a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22) win over East Division foe Kent State on Friday.

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