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Mallory Salis jumps high to hit the ball over the net in their home game against Bowling Green State University Friday, November 14, 2014. 

Volleyball: Ohio finished MAC play at a perfect 16-0 with a pair of wins this weekend

Ohio finished MAC play at a perfect 16-0 with a pair of wins this weekend.

Saturday started with a few tears during the pregame festivities before ending by the hand of senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti.

Senior Night never presented the emotional or physical match Ohio foresaw coming into its final regular season bout against Miami, which the Bobcats swept in straight sets.

For the first time since 2006, Ohio has completed an undefeated Mid-American Conference regular season. Two weeks ago, the team stopped ignoring the streak, instead choosing to embrace it as an opportunity to leave a legacy that no other team can top.

“Our seniors Kelly and Hannah both had big days for us,” coach Deane Webb said. “Just a great performance. I have great respect for Miami and how hot they are right now. Tonight I’m just happy for our seniors, for all three of them to leave here with a legacy that cannot be beaten.”

After being honored during pregame ceremonies for seniors, middle blocker Hannah Burkle and Lamberti led the Bobcats offensively. Miami was the only team to take Ohio to five sets this season, and the Bobcats didn’t let that happen again Saturday.

From the opening whistle, Ohio had control of the match, leaving no doubt it would finish its conference run undefeated. When playing the MAC’s top competition — Miami and Northern Illinois — at home this season, Ohio had little trouble sweeping both matches.

“There were so many people here to support us which was awesome to see,” Lamberti said. “It was kind of like another game for us. Miami came out and fought pretty hard, but we came out and just wanted it.”

Although Ohio also won Friday’s match against Bowling Green in straight sets, the Bobcats had a different look in their eyes each night. They knew what challenge they were facing but were prepared executing the game plan meticulously. Each game plan for Ohio starts on the defensive end as they held Miami to a .118 hitting percentage.

The Huskies and Redhawks will be the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the MAC Tournament this weekend. Neither will be especially pleased to return to The Convo — a place many teams in the MAC have trouble playing in.

“A lot of people have a tough time playing in our gym,” sophomore defensive specialist Brooke Coleman said earlier last week. “Having the home court is a huge advantage knowing we will be in our own locker room and we are always more pumped up there. We play better on our home court and people are scared to play us here.”

By winning the MAC regular season for a second straight year, Ohio will yet again host the MAC Tournament next season. That’s something Webb wanted for the juniors, who will now host the tournament their senior year.

But Saturday was for the seniors as Burkle and Lamberti cemented themselves as the fourth senior class to complete an undefeated MAC regular season. They will not rest on the accomplishments long and will be back to practice Monday to prepare for next weekend.

“We’re going to enjoy this,” Webb said. “We used to say until midnight, but tomorrow we have to be ready to get up and work. This time I might give them two days because we have to get back to work. We have a conference tournament here next week and there are a bunch of teams out there that would love nothing more than to beat us at our place.”

@kovarandrew

ak840511@ohio.edu

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