Box Score (PDF)
By Mike Ashcraft & Pete Nakos
ATHENS, Ohio -- Behind 18 kills from sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Stephens (Dallas, Texas), the Ohio volleyball team (12-13, 6-5 MAC) earned a 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-21) sweep of Mid-American Conference East Division rival Akron (6-17, 2-8) on Friday (Oct. 27) night at the Convocation Center.
The Bobcats swept the season series against Zips with the win. Ohio picked up its first conference win of the 2017 season with a 3-1 (25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23) victory over Akron on Sept. 23 at James A. Rhodes Arena.
Ohio .290 with 40 kills in the win and took advantage of six service errors by Akron. The Bobcats dished out 10 service aces on the night and limited the Zips to a .148 hitting percentage and 28 kills.
"Tonight was a good win," said fourth-year head coach Deane Webb. "Every conference win is a good win. I think there are some things we need to improve upon coming out of tonight. Serving, we were very good, but the misses tonight went into the net. For two sets, we played at a nice level. Third set, we relaxed a little and had to come from behind."
Stephens hit a career-high .424 with a match-high 18 kills on 33 attack attempts. She also tallied a service ace, an assisted block and five digs. Freshman middle blocker Tia Jimerson (Sugar Hill, Georgia) followed Stephens with eight kills and hit .467. She also contributed a solo block and dig. Junior setter/outside hitter Stephanie Olman (Maumee, Ohio) hit .333 with seven kills and added an assisted block. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Sara Januszewski (Oak Creek, Wis.) tallied a match-high four assisted blocks and also had two kills. Freshman setter Vera Giacomazzi (San Vendemiano, Italy) distributed a match-high 35 assists and tied a career-high with three service aces. She also contributed eight digs. Sophomore outside hitter/libero Allyson Vaughn (Glenview, Ill.) posted three service aces to match her career high and added a dig. Freshman libero Macy Reihing (Lexington, Ky.) led the team with eight digs and set a new career high with three service aces. She also had an assist.
"I think it was preparation for this game, knowing that they didn't block line," said Stephens of the key to her success. "Continuously they weren't blocking cross-court, and I knew I had it open all night. I was there, which was helping my success a lot. Just being in system and able to get opportunities with the block."
Redshirt junior right side hitter Madi Baer led Akron with a team-high eight kills and also chipped in an assisted block and three digs. Redshirt senior middle blocker Jessia Kloehn chipped in six kills and two total blocks (one solo, one assisted) to tie for the team lead. She also had a dig. Redshirt senior middle blocker Julie Shallman notched five kills and two assisted blocks while freshman left side hitter Alexis Adleta added two assisted blocks, three kills and two digs. Freshman setter Emily Weigand dished out a team-high 22 assists for the Zips, while also posting a team-high two services aces and match-high nine digs.
Ohio forced Akron to burn both of its timeouts just 17 points into the match as the Bobcats jumped out to an 11-6 lead over the Zips. Four kills and a service ace by Stephens, two kills by Jimerson, a service ace by Vaughn and a double block by Giacomazzi and Januszewski helped the Bobcats build the early advantage. A kill by Shallman, a service ace by Weigand and a service error by Ohio allowed the Zips to trim the Bobcats' edge to three at 12-9. That's as close as Akron got, though, as Ohio led by as many as 11 at 23-12 after a kill by Olman. A kill by Stephens and an Akron service error allowed Ohio to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Stephens finished the opening set with seven kills and a service ace.
The Bobcats rolled to a dominant 12-point win in the second set to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Ohio raced out to an 8-3 lead and forced Akron to call timeout thanks to two kills by Stephens, a kill by Jimerson and a service ace by Reihing. Akron countered with a 7-5 spurt that allowed the Zips to cut Ohio's lead to three at 13-10. It was all Bobcats from there, though, as Ohio closed the set victory out with a 12-3 run. Stephens led the way with five kills while Giacomazzi logged three service aces.
The third set was a back-and-forth affair. Akron overcame a 13-12 deficit by going on a 7-4 run to take a 19-17 advantage, utilizing kills by Weigand and Kloehn and a double block by Kloehn and Baer. The Bobcats rallied, though, and forced Akron to call timeout after Ohio took a 21-20 lead thanks to kills by Olman, Stephens and Jimerson. Another kill by Baer evened the score at 21-all, but a service error by the Zips, a ball handling error by Akron, a kill by Stephens and a service ace by Vaughn allowed Ohio to close out the sweep by scoring four unanswered points.
Ohio closes out the sixth weekend of MAC play by hosting East Division rival Buffalo (14-8, 7-4 MAC) in a key 7 p.m. ET match on Saturday (Oct. 28) at the Convo. The contest will be streamed live on ESPN3. 'Voice of Ohio volleyball' Jake Hromada and Gabe Genovesi will be on the call. Saturday's contest will serve as the Bobcats' Halloween Spook 'n' Spike Match, with $2 admission for anyone who wears a costume to the Convo. The Bobcats could not capitalize on a first-set victory and fell to Buffalo, 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-17), in the opening match of 2017 league play on Sept. 22 at Alumni Arena in Amherst, N.Y. Buffalo enters Saturday's match coming off of a 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 27-25) sweep of MAC East Division rival Kent State on Friday at the M.A.C. Center.