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Sports Column: Bobcats able to do special things, repeat history

Ohio has the potential to run the tables and go undefeated this year in MAC play.

Ohio volleyball’s 19-4 record is phenomenal overall, not to mention its 12-0 start in the Mid-American Conference.

This is Ohio’s best start since 2006 and they have the potential to be better than that squad.

The Bobcats were at an amazing 20-3 record at this point in the season in 2006 when they won all 16 MAC contests for the third straight year before winning the MAC Tournament, making the NCAA Tournament and finishing 28-5.

That was an incredible season under the then second-year coach Geoff Carlston, and will be tough to top but is doable.

The Bobcats can overshadow that 2006 team by doing what they’re doing, and that’s not just winning. It’s about getting better day-by-day, staying healthy and focusing on one game at a time. It’s easier written than done.

If there’s one thing this year’s team has over the 2006 team, it’s depth. Names like Kelly Lamberti, Abby Gilleland, Meridith Ashy and even freshman Jaime Kosiorek are heard numerously. It’s true, they’re a huge reason to the team’s success, but let’s take a look deeper into the roster.

The senior middle blocker, Hannah Burkle, is having the best season of her college career with 136 kills (1.77 per set) and 52 total blocks. She came into her senior year at Ohio with just nine sets played and three total kills.

Junior middle blockers Shelby Walker and Karin Bull lead the team in total blocks with 171 combined. Bull provides an offensive spark, having 160 kills (1.88 per set) on the year.

Walker’s offense is utilized frequently, but can be overshadowed by the depth of the team.

Sophomores Brooke Coleman and Mallory Salis offer an aggressive back row, as Salis is very versatile and provides an all-around effort with almost no errors.

Salis led the team in aces last year for Ohio and this year she has the top two servers in the conference in her rotation. She hasn’t recorded ace in 2014, a big proof of depth.

Coleman has the third-highest reception percentage (.940) on the team behind Ashy and Salis, and she adds to the serving portion of the game with 10 aces this year.

Chelsea Bilger, a redshirt junior outside hitter, saw four sets of action against Eastern Michigan last Saturday, so fans will see her more active now. The 2012 First Team All-MAC player is healthy and hungry to make up for lost time. Her athleticism on the court is a huge gain for Ohio.

Ohio is starting to turn some heads on the national level. The latest American Volleyball Coaches Association Poll was released Monday and Ohio garnered six votes. The Bobcats can do something special this year, there’s something about this team that gives you a good feeling about what they can achieve.

There can be some teams to step in the way, but let’s save those for later.

Jake Hromada is a freshman studying broadcast journalism and is the play-by-play broadcaster for Ohio Volleyball. Do you think the Bobcats can go undefeated? Let him know at and @OUScoopHromada.


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