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Meredith Ashy dives for the ball Thursday in Ohio’s game against Kent State.

Volleyball: Ohio continues to struggle in the MAC by faltering against Kent State's attack

Ohio suffers frustrating loss to MAC East foe Kent State at home, on Meredith Ashy's record-breaking evening.

Kelly Hutchison peered through the patterned netting in search of her next Bobcat victim.

Almost everyone knew where the next set was going, but it didn’t matter.

In a flash of navy and gold, Hutchison smacked the ball with a thundering left swing over an Ohio (20-6, 10-3 Mid-American Conference) double block.

She let out a roar that continuously echoed throughout the match, as the Bobcats stumbled out of sole first place in the MAC East.

“She always brings it when she plays against us,” Ohio libero Meredith Ashy said of Hutchison’s contribution in the (25-13, 24-26, 13-25, 20-25) loss. “She goes for it every single time she gets the ball.”

Hutchison’s offensive presence around the net and her colonel-like, barking of orders and formations helped hand Ohio its first conference loss in The Convo since Oct. 19, 2013.

“A few times I saw during the game, she looked at her setter and was like, ‘Give me the ball,’ ” Ashy said on Hutchison’s 15-kill evening. “She wanted it and had a great night.”

Ohio coach Deane Webb agreed. 

“Great player,” Webb said. “On a ball closest to the pin, she has been hitting .500 for a three week span. That’s amazing. She drove their offense.”

Accompanying Hutchison, a senior, was Kent State (16-9, 10-3 MAC) sophomore Kelsey Bittinger, who tallied 11 kills on the evening.

Webb said he was impressed with Bittinger and her efficiency on the left pin. He said he believes Bittinger is one of the best young outside hitters in the conference.

In a night of many negatives, one positive moment for the Bobcats was a dig in the fourth set by one of their senior leaders, Ashy.

Ashy recorded dig number 2,092 in her career, surpassing Michaele Blackburn (2003-06) on the Bobcats all-time digs list.

“These are happy and sad tears,” Ashy said about her emotions after the monumental night. “Tough to lose this one.”

More important to Ashy was her team’s recent struggles to live up to high expectations, which she said herself and her teammates can’t quite comprehend.

“I think we’re frustrated more than everything,” Ashy said. “We don’t know what’s going on right now, because we have all the pieces, all the parts. We’re just confused.”

Webb said he believes his team is good enough to beat the Golden Flashes; a statement he can back up with Ohio’s sweep of Kent State earlier in the season.

But for this night, Hutchison exposed the team Webb hoped did not show up on his end of the court.

“We’re almost two different teams right now,” Webb added. “We’re a team that goes all out and plays with confidence and then we’re a team that just kind of waits and hopes that things happen for us.”


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