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Ohio University volleyball setter Abby Gilleland attempts to block the ball coming over the net during the match against Eastern Michigan University in the Convocation Center, at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. The OU Bobcats defeated the EMU Eagles 3-1. 

Bobcats feed off their setter’s competitiveness and leadership skills

Abby Gilleland returns for her senior year as a true leader and captain for the Bobcats.

Abby Gilleland desperately sprinted past the back line as she dove headfirst and landed with a thud onto the hard court of The Convo.

The ball she had leapt for careened off her closed fist and dropped for the other team’s point. Picking her own contorted body off the floor, she had a look of disappointment on her face. That look, however, quickly turned into a motivational glare to perform better next time.

That was just a spring game.

“I do not like to lose,” Gilleland said. “I think that is ingrained in me.”

Gilleland, who’s coming off her second straight Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award, was Ohio’s setter during the Bobcats 17-game winning streak last year. Even with the decorated accolades, it is what most people don’t see that defines Gilleland.

“(Abby) is a kid that obviously her skill and performance on the court speaks for itself,” coach Deane Webb said. “The other part of that is just her leadership and her competitiveness.”

An essential component of Gilleland’s passion on the court is her vocal authority. She is the kind of person that is never quiet, said junior libero Meredith Ashy.

If someone on the team isn’t playing up to par, Gilleland will be the first one to say, “Pick it up,” but she also takes extreme accountability for herself as well, Ashy said.

“Abby is so grown in her own way,” said assistant coach Ariel Apolinario. “She sees so many things that, we truly believe if she really wanted to, she could be a coach.”

Apart from the eagerness to win, Gilleland will be one of the first players to congratulate her teammates when things are going well. The Bobcats accept their captain’s criticism and applause, because they know of her experience and maturity.

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“She can tell people where to go, what to do. She knows the game very well, she has a very, very high IQ, and that’s a huge plus,” Apolinario said.

Despite the hard demeanor on the court, Gilleland finds it important to connect to her teammates, as she leads her team in what she feels is a ‘full-time job with no days off’.

“She is a fantastic friend,” Ashy said. “We’ve been roommates since freshman year … I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Apolinario said she believes Gilleland will be very successful later in her life because of the passion she displays on and off the court.

Last weekend, Gilleland was awarded the opportunity to be a representative for the MAC

at the NCAA leadership forum in Orlando, Florida. She explained it was a great opportunity to be surrounded by other leaders to help further develop herself.

For now, though, Gilleland and the Bobcats’ goal is to mesh together and make a push for the NCAA tournament after the Bobcats were upset in the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament by Western Michigan.

“As for me personally, I just want to enjoy my senior year.” Gilleland said.


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