No. 3 Ohio is staying alive in the Mid-American Conference Tournament after defeating No. 6 Northern Illinois 3-0 in the quarterfinals in Worthen Arena. The win on Sunday marked Ohio’s fourth-straight sweep against Northern Illinois and second this season. It was also its first MAC Tournament win since 2019.
The Bobcats (12-18, 11-7 MAC) established themselves as contenders during the first set. They went on three scoring runs of three or more points to win the set 25-15. There was not much that the Huskies (16-13, 10-8 MAC) could do to catch up to the dominant Bobcats. They were held to six kills out of 36 total attempts.
Northern Illinois appeared to be on an uneven keel going into the second set. It started off with an attack error by Ella Mihacevich and did not score a non-error induced point until the middle of the set. Northern Illinois’ first four points came from Ohio’s errors. However, the second set did finish in closer fashion, and Ohio won by the skin of its teeth 25-23.
Ohio sat comfortable with a 2-0 match lead going into the third set. All it needed to do was fend off Northern Illinois for one more set, and then it would head to the semifinals to face Bowling Green.
The Bobcats opened set three with a three-point scoring run. Afterward, they kept at least a two-point lead over the Huskies all set. There was no stopping the Bobcats once they had their mind set on the win. They closed out the match with another 25-15 set win and a ticket to the semifinals.
Middle blocker Caitlin O’Farrell was the driving force for Ohio on Sunday. She had been relatively quiet all season, but she exploded against Northern Illinois. She had 15 kills, seven blocks and one service ace — all enough to lead both teams. Her efforts were aided by setter Tria McLean, who had 47 assists and four blocks.