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Abby Gilleland, a sophomore setter, leaps for joy after Ohio defeated CMU 3-0 on Nov. 16. She received her second straight MAC player of the year honors Thursday.

Volleyball: Bobcats begin MAC play with back-to-back victories

The Bobcats began MAC play with a pair of wins for the 11th time in 12 years.

After winning the Mid-American Conference regular season and the MAC Tournament last year, Ohio began a new conference campaign where it left off.

The Bobcats won each of their matches this weekend, including Saturday at Central Michigan in four sets. For the 11th time in 12 seasons, Ohio began MAC play with a pair of victories.

Despite winning the first set by 14 points — tying their largest margin of victory this season — the Bobcats (9-4, 2-0 MAC) then dropped the second by four points after being tied late at 20 apiece.

Aside from the first set, Central Michigan (6-8, 1-1 MAC) remained competitive in the next three, but Ohio showed resilience at the end of each to pull out victories and ultimately clinch the match. The teams were tied at 16 in the third set, but Ohio scored 10 of the next 12 points to win the set.

"We played even with CMU for the first half of the (third) set,” coach Deane Webb said. “Once we found our rhythm at the end of the set, we controlled much of the rest of the match.”

Although senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti was the lone Bobcats player to record double-digit kills with 13, Ohio used a balanced effort offensively. Juniors Karin Bull, a middle blocker, and Abby Gilleland, the setter, added nine and eight kills, respectively.

During Ohio’s MAC opener Thursday against Kent State, Gilleland finished with 11 kills, 40 assists and 15 digs. Sunday she continued to be an all-around force for the Bobcats with 40 more assists.

“For the second match in a row Abby was very aggressive attacking, and it really put pressure on the CMU defense to defend her as well as our other attackers," Webb said.

Ohio and Central Michigan were tied at eight in the final set, but the Bobcats went on a 12-4 run, during which Gilleland recorded a pair of kills and a service ace, while assisting on seven other points.

The Bobcats held the reigning MAC West offensive player of the week Kaitlyn McIntyre to just 11 kills after she totalled 43 kills in three matches last weekend.

"CMU has a couple of outside hitters that can score well, so stopping them was a priority,” Webb said. “Our serve was able to limit the swing of other hitters, and, additionally, scored quite a few points for us."

After starting the season 1-3, Ohio has won eight of its past nine matches. The Bobcats are also one of three teams still undefeated in MAC play.

"We'll need to improve this week in practice to be prepared for important home MAC matches next weekend,” Webb said.

@chadlindskog

cl027410@ohio.edu

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