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Abby Gilleland and Karin Bull play a game of "slaps" in between sets at their home match win Friday evening against Western Michigan.

Bobcats remain undefeated in MAC play

HED: Bobcats remain undefeated in MAC play

After a pair of wins against the MAC’s top competition, the Bobcats remain undefeated and are now alone atop the MAC standings

Ohio’s senior class was in eighth grade the last time the Bobcats went undefeated in Mid-American Conference play.

With a pair of wins this weekend, Ohio put itself in a position to go undefeated in MAC play for the first time since 2006. It made good of that opportunity, topping Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, which were at the top of the MAC standings entering the weekend and had the conference’s top-ranked offenses. 

“This is a point in the season where it is emotional enough as is,” junior setter Abby Gilleland said. “It’s a weekend we prepare for and we know (what) is coming in the back of our mind, so I think what’s important ... is our emotions.”

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The Bobcats (17-4, 10-0 MAC) looked to their captains in Gilleland and senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti to lead them to victory against some of the conference’s top competition.

Lamberti led Ohio with 24 kills against Western Michigan on Friday, nine of which came in Ohio’s second-set win.

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“That was pretty special tonight,” coach Deane Webb said after the match. “Having 24 kills and only doing it in 46 swings as an outside is incredible. You don’t see outsides that hit .500 very often especially against good opponents. What is exciting for me is how much better she gets against good opponents.”

The battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in conference — Ohio and Northern Illinois — never lived up to its billing, as the Bobcats swept the Huskies in three sets. 

Ohio was able to hold Northern Illinois senior first team All-MAC outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy to a .152 hitting percentage and only 11 kills.

“She’s an outstanding player,” Webb said after the match. “They have a number of good players, and I would say she’s the headliner. We know she was going to get hers, and she did.”

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As the Bobcats keyed in on the Huskies’ top hitter, Northern Illinois did the same by limiting Lamberti to only 12 kills and a .175 attack percentage. Gilleland spread the ball around to find other offensive options as a result.

She found production from a number of different players, as five different Bobcats had six or more kills.

Ohio will look to lean on its defense with six matches remaining in MAC play. 

“We’ve talked about wanting to improve every week and bringing our better selves to the gym and improving each other and our entire gym,” Gilleland said. “I think collectively as the season goes on that’s what’s happening.”

@Kovarandrew

kf398711@ohio.edu

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