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Ali Lake, a sophomore middle back, is prepared for a ball that won't get through a block by Hannah Burkle and Shelby Walker. Ohio won the match 3-1. 

Ohio defeats Eastern Michigan in MAC Championship rematch

In a rematch of last year’s Mid-American Conference Championship, Ohio prevailed over Eastern Michigan in four sets.

With the win, the Bobcats remain undefeated in conference play as they are now only four games from finishing MAC play unblemished. It did not come easy for the Bobcats were plagued by sloppy play all night long as their lack of communication resulted in points for the Eagles.

A new lineup for Ohio proved to present its problems as both offensively and defensively the Bobcats were out of rhythm. That especially held true for the second set as the Bobcats hit only .100 for the set as neither of their two outside hitters in senior Kelly Lamberti and freshman Jaime Kosiorek were able to solve the Eagles defense.

“I think to start the match tonight we were just really flat emotionally and we normally weren’t communicating to the level that we do,” coach Deane Webb said. “We just looked emotionally tired and that’s not too unusual for this time of year and tonight that was out battle. We had a battle with EMU and we had a battle with our own emotions.”

Tonight was redshirt junior outside hitter Chelsea Bilger first start of the season. Bilger last start was nearly 14 months ago against No. 24 North Carolina when she tore her ACL and both menisci in her left leg. This is the first time she had played an entire match since September 6th against the Tar Heels as she tallied 12 kills versus Eastern Michigan.

“I would say I’m about 100 percent as I’m going to get,” Bilger said. “I’ll never be the same as I was, but I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

Bilger replaced junior middle blocker Shelby Walker in the starting lineup as especially in the fourth set the Bobcats fed the 2012 All-MAC selection. She had five kills in the final set including the final point which gave Ohio the 25-20 win.

Webb looked down the bench to Bilger as he felt that she presented the better matchup against Eastern Michigan.

“Every week we’ll look at who we’re playing and we’ll put the best team on the court against that team,” Webb said. “Tonight we had a couple of different lineups out there. We’re very fortunate that we’re deep and we have a number of players that can come in and contribute.”

With the insertion of Bilger, it will add another dimension to the Bobcat offense that they didn’t have before. If Bilger can combine with Kosiorek Ohio will have other reliable options to go to behind Kelly Lamberti who led the team with 14 kills on the night. This balanced attack is something that the Bobcats have been striving for this season, so teams can’t just focus in on Lamberti

Ohio has now defeated every team in the conference with the victory over Eastern Michigan. Their remaining games come against their MAC East rivals as Miami was the only to take Ohio to five sets. The Bobcat’s matchup versus the Redhawks is the final of the season as they will welcome Miami to the Convocation Center.


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