Ohio shows they can hang with some of the nation’s best teams in Wahine Invitational.
After dropping its opener in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational, Ohio bounced back to beat San Diego State before taking then-No. 25 Arizona State to the brink.
After starting out their weekend with a loss in straight sets to the host Rainbow Warriors, the Bobcats cruised to a 3-1 victory against the Sun Devils in its second match of the tournament. Senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti registered 22 kills to lead the way.
In the tournament finale for Ohio, the Bobcats looked to be on their way to pulling off a stunner against Arizona State — which was ranked No. 17 in Monday’s American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The teams traded sets before the Sun Devils grabbed control in the final set to win 3-2.
The tournament was an opportunity to gauge where they stand against the nation’s stiffest competition, with first-year coach Deane Webb adding in a new wrinkle this year of aggressive serving. This strategy seems to be catching on as in the final game against Arizona State they had 11 service aces while limiting their service errors to nine.
On the defensive end, Ohio was led by junior middle blocker Karin Bull who tallied nine blocks in the tournament. For her efforts she was named the Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the week.
Ohio flexed its offensive muscles in its one win of the tournament led by two AVCA All-American honorable mentions in Lamberti and junior setter Abby Gilleland. The dependable Bobcat duo combined for 24 of the team's 50 kills while Gilleland also added 38 assists on the night.
The match didn’t start how Ohio would have liked, as it lost the first set 25-23, but the Bobcats rallied to grab their first win under Webb.
“The ability to keep composure was important,” Webb said. “We lost the first set and had to come back after that … you lose that first set and not know what you have or what you’re made of. That second set was one of the best that we’ve played.”
The momentum from the San Diego State match carried over into Ohio's final match, where it came out aggressively against then-No. 25 Arizona State. After dropping the opening set, Ohio battled back to take the second set 26-24. The Sun Devils grabbed the next set 26-24 and once again the Bobcats responded by grabbing the fourth set 26-24 to force a decisive fifth set. Arizona State dominated the final stanza 15-8 as Ohio just didn’t have enough left in the tank.
“We were playing an entirely different level of volleyball than what we played on the first night against Hawaii,” Webb said. “I think it was a great weekend for us serving and we had a good blocking weekend."
Freshman outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek looks like she could be the next star for Ohio. She led the team in the tournament with nine service aces to go along with her 27 kills on the weekend. With Lamberti well entrenched as the starting outside hitter, Kosiorek will have time to sit back and develop behind the All-American before being forced into the spotlight.
“Both from attacking and the service line, she did a good job,” Webb said. “She was able to attack and be effective out of system. She not only took those unforced errors away and made them attacks.”