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Tia Jimerson celebrates with the team after a point during Ohio's game against Ball State on Saturday.

Volleyball: Ohio dominates Ball State

Ohio had already won the first set. But not convincingly.

The Bobcats had won the first set the night before too, only to see that lead lost in a five-set match.

Then Saturday's second set happened.

Up 24-16, Sara Januszewski and Stephanie Olman jumped at the net, blocking a Ball State attack to put an exclamation point on a dominant second-set performance.

The Bobcats used that huge second set to capture a Mid-American Conference win, a sweep (25-22, 25-16, 25-18) of Ball State on Saturday night in The Convo.

“Well, that went well,” coach Deane Webb said with a smile.

The second set began with a 6-0 run by the Bobcats, served by Vera Giacomazzi. After Ball State tried to make the set interesting, Ohio pushed the lead to 11-4. From then on, Ball State came no closer than eight points to Ohio.

Sure, the easily won set can be credited to the nine errors by Ball State in the second set alone, but it wasn’t just a win based on errors. The Bobcats played well for an entire volleyball game, which is a step Webb has been looking for his young team to take.

“I was incredibly impressed,” Webb said. “(The Bobcats) chose to be a more mature team today.”

It was the performance the Bobcats needed after the heartbreaking, five-set loss to Toledo on Friday night. This was much different than that: quick, efficient, dominant.

Lizzie Stephens hit .349 and had 19 kills. Stephanie Olman and Tia Jimerson had 12 kills each. As a team, the Bobcats had just 14 errors.

All of those stats are telling of a three-set win for the Bobcats. But one stat that stood out was the career-high 27 digs by freshman libero Macy Reihing, all in just three sets. 

Her previous career high was 26 digs against Miami on Sept. 29, but that was a five-set match. Reihing is beginning to play at a very high level, tallying over 20 digs in each of her last five matches.

Part of it is the play of the blockers in front of her, but she’s becoming more comfortable in the role Webb has given her, and it was proven Saturday night.

“I’ve been waiting for (the 27-dig performance) to come,” Reihing said. “But I couldn’t have done it without the block.”

And as the second set domination got Ohio on track for a sweep over Ball State, there is a new-found confidence within the team. The Bobcats already beat the preseason MAC East favorite, Miami, earlier this season. 

Now Ohio can claim a win over the preseason MAC West favorite as well. Knowing it can compete with anyone in the conference has the team riding a confidence wave.

“I told the team before the match tonight that it was a chance to increase your belief,” Webb said. “We didn’t just get a win today, we played the best we’ve played in a long time.”

@SpencerHolbrook

sh690914@ohio.edu

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