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Ohio setter Abbe Gilleland, center, celebrates after a successful play along with libero Meredith Ashy, left, and Kelly Lamberti, right, during to the Ohio vs. Miami game at the Convocation Center on Friday, October 4, 2013. Ohio beat Miami 3-1.

With wins over Ball State and Toledo, the Bobcats have their best MAC start since 2009 when they reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament

With wins over Ball State and Toledo, the Bobcats have their best MAC start since 2009 when they reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

With wins over Ball State and Toledo this weekend, Ohio now sits at a place they haven’t been in five seasons.

For the first time since 2009, the Bobcats have started Mid-American Conference play 8-0.

They were only challenged in the second set against Ball State, but other than that occurrence, this weekend was a microcosm for why Ohio has been successful in conference play this year.

Ohio (15-4, 8-0 MAC) started out their weekend with their quickest set of the season, defeating Ball State (12-9, 6-2 MAC) 25-8 in the first set. Like they have done many times during the conference portion of this season, Ohio took control early on to grab a 1-0 lead in the match.

“Set one was a shocker in that we played almost unbelievably well and Ball State seemed to be tight to start the match,” coach Deane Webb said. “We knew the rest of the match would be more competitive, and it was.”

The Bobcats have won the first set in 13 of their last 14 games. The one time the Bobcats didn’t win the first set they suffered their only loss in that time frame, falling 3-2 to Northwestern.

Much of their first set success Friday had to do with to the efficiency of junior middle blocker Karin Bull who recorded four of her season-high 13 kills in the first frame. While senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti struggled early, the team turned to Bull for offensive output.

“Kelly had a rough start attacking, but played exceptionally well in sets three and four,” Webb said. “Karin was just incredible attacking, and our passers got us in system enough that she could not only hit for a high average, but also generate a great deal of offense.”

Bull finished the night with a .812 attack percentage, which ranks as the third-best attacking percentage in Bobcats history.

The second match of the weekend proved to be no contest for the Bobcats, as they went up against a Toledo team who had yet to win a conference game. In the midst of a rebuild, the Rockets had trouble containing the Bobcats’ offense. Ohio swept Toledo (1-20, 0-8 MAC) for their second win of the weekend using a .252 hitting percentage.

The 2009 team that started 8-0 in conference play ended up winning the MAC regular season and tournament titles that year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before being knocked out by Michigan.

The Bobcats aren’t focused on the history, but rather they intend to move on to the next match at hand. They return to The Convo next weekend to take on Western Michigan and Northern Illinois. The Huskies, like Ohio, are undefeated in conference play.

With the two teams set to face off next Saturday, it seems as if the matchup may determine who will win the MAC regular season title this season.

“The next seven days are incredibly important,” Webb said. “We need to improve and we need to prepare for two of the best teams in the MAC. We look forward to playing in front of our great fans for these important matches.”

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