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Ohio's Jaime Kosiorek spikes the ball during Ohio's game against Ball State at the Convocation Center. The Bobcats won 3-2 on Oct. 16.

Volleyball: Ohio escapes scare from Ball State, stays undefeated in the MAC

Led by Ali Lake, the Bobcats beat the Cardinals on Dig Pink night after a back and forth fifth set.

Emerging from a sea of pink, one unfamiliar Bobcat saved Ohio from suffering its first loss in Mid-American Conference regular season play since Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” topped the music charts.

And that’s no coincidence. Redshirt sophomore Ali Lake demolished any hopes of the Cardinals defeating the Bobcats in The Convo.

“It was great seeing Ali getting going,” coach Deane Webb said of Lake’s play. “She’s been working her way in this year, getting prepared for a moment like this. I’m just happy for her.”

Ohio squeaked by Ball State on Dig Pink night in five sets — 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 21-25 and 18-16 — led by Lake’s career-high 18 kills.

“You don’t really realize how many points you’re racking up until the very end when coach announces it in the locker room,” Lake said. “It was just a nice little surprise.”

Lake started off strong with three kills in a row as the Bobcats took a 14-12 lead in the first set. Lake and fellow middle blocker Karin Bull were forces at the net, combining for eight scoring blocks in a 25-19 win.

The second set was sloppy for Ohio, filled with errors and over-hit attacks that flew out of bounds. That was the beginning of a frustrating night during which the Bobcats recorded 21 total service errors, each one sucking the energy from the home side.

That set was also Ohio’s first lost set in 14 straight games.

Ohio then fought back from a 9-3 deficit and won the third set, thanks to a slew of late sneaky kills by Abby Gilleland.

Gilleland was one kill away from recording a triple double on the night. She finished with nine kills, 54 assists and 13 digs.

Ball State took the fourth set in commanding fashion as senior Alex Fuelling and freshman Brooklyn Goodsel carried the Cardinals, each tallying 13-plus kills on the evening.

In the fifth set, Ohio faced match point three times.

Following a questionable no-call on a ball that seemed to be tipped by the Cardinals, the Bobcats, still in disbelief, miscommunicated over a set from Gilleland. The two attackers watched the ball, as if in slow motion, land in favor of Ball State, to put the Cardinals up 14-13.

Next, a spike from Shelby Walker deflected off the top of the net and floated behind the turned backs of two blockers and struck the floor, keeping the Bobcats alive to see another point.

Two more match points for Ball State were erased by Lake’s hammer of a swing. Then a Cardinal attack error and the final kill by Mallory Salis put the Bobcat faithful into a jubilant frenzy.

Although the Cardinals knew where the ball was going all match, they couldn’t stop Lake and her unexpected performance.

“We don’t win tonight if Ali was good,” Webb said. “We won tonight because Ali was great.”

@NKairys

nk596613@ohio.edu

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