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Ohio volleyball outside hitter Kelly Lamberti spikes the ball over Eastern Michigan outside hitter Stacy Perinar and middle back Megan Cranshaw in The Convo on Saturday. The Bobcats defeated the Eagles 3-1. 

Volleyball: Ohio embracing undefeated run

On the verge of history, coach Deane Webb diverts the success off of himself and onto the senior class.

No coach in Ohio history has gone undefeated in Mid-American Conference play in his or her first season.

Coach Deane Webb is looking to change that as he and the Bobcats are now four games removed from running the table in MAC play. It’s a feat his predecessor Ryan Theis was never able to accomplish during his tenure at Ohio.

Now, using primarily players that Theis brought in, Webb is on the precipice of making program history. Only one other coach, Geoff Carlston, has been able to complete an undefeated conference season. Carlston accomplished it three times from 2004-06 while only dropping 16 sets over that span.

This year’s team has been just as dominant, dropping only eight sets through the first twelve games of the schedule. Admittedly, the thought of going undefeated in MAC play has crept into the minds of the Bobcats and even has become a part of the everyday locker room talk.

“For the first 12 games we didn’t talk about it at all,” Webb said. “It was very much like a pitcher in baseball throwing a shutout — nobody talks, nobody sits next to him. We just really didn’t talk about it. This last week we started to after our last match. It’s not a stress inducing thing; it’s an opportunity.”

It’s a short-term goal for Ohio, but an opportunity nonetheless to put its mark on the record books. With the likes of senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti, junior setter Abby Gilleland and junior libero Meredith Ashy already in the record book, this would further entrench their legacies as Bobcats.

This generation of Ohio players is looking to leave its mark on program history: something that only three teams before them have done. For Webb personally, it might not mean much, but he would love nothing more than to see his players finish what they have started.

“I don’t know if it means a whole lot to me as a first-year coach or as a coach at all,” Webb said. “What I talked about is how neat it would be for our seniors. How great it would be to leave your last mark, your last season to leave a legacy and to say that no one can do better. They are some very talented young ladies and I would like for them to be remembered in that way.”

Two of Ohio’s final hurdles to an undefeated season come this weekend on the road against Akron and Buffalo. The Bobcats swept both teams when they came to The Convo earlier this year, but this weekend might prove to be different.

Buffalo was missing two starters in junior outside hitter Tahleia Bishop and junior setter Marissa Prinzbach the first time it played Ohio. Receiving All-MAC honors a season ago, Bishop took up the week’s preparation only to not play due to the flu. She leads the MAC in kills per set with 4.33 and is second in total kills with 355, only trailing Northern Illinois’ Mackenzie Roddy.

The Bobcats realize Bishop and the Bulls are one of the few remaining obstacles in the regular season and they relish the opportunity of facing one the conference’s top hitters.

“Last time we prepared all week for her and when we played the game, we were kind of bummed because it wasn’t the match that we were expecting,” Ashy said. “If you ask anyone on the team if they were upset by that, they would say ‘yeah’ because we wanted to play against Bishop.”

@Kovarandrew

ak840511@ohio.edu

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