Volleyball falters against undefeated Bobcats

Kent State junior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm hits the ball around the block during a game against Western Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. The Flashes won, 3-1.

Jimmy Miller

Ohio University brought an undefeated Mid-American Conference record to the M.A.C. Center Thursday and showed it off, downing Kent State in four sets.

That’s not to say the Flashes didn’t put up a fight. Kent State (12-12, 4-7 MAC) played the Bobcats tight throughout the match, particularly in the third set, as they managed a 27-25 set win.

“We weren’t locating our serves to where we wanted to be to give us good situations defensively,” Kent State coach Don Gromala said. “I think we played okay, but we’ve got to play better than just okay.”

The first set established the tone of the entire match. While Ohio University (18-4, 11-0 MAC) wound up with the victory, Kent State made it interesting, pushing the set to 25-22.

It looked like momentum would permanently swing in Ohio University’s favor after a dominant 25-16 second set win; however, Kent State stormed back in a third-set thriller, 27-25.

“We love those (close sets),” junior middle blocker Bridget Wilhelm said. “Everyone wanted the ball. I love that attitude.”

The set victory didn’t come without a cost, as freshman outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger left the match with an apparent mouth injury on a critical late play. Bittinger finished the night with 11 kills and is questionable for their match this Saturday against Central Michigan University.

“Great hustle play, great dig,” Gromala said. “We’re going to stitch her up, and we know she wants to be on the court, but I don’t think it’ll be up to us.”

Ohio University clinched the match in a tight fourth set, finishing with a 25-22 victory. Questionable calls marred the final set, as both coaches took time to discuss points with the officials; ultimately, two perfectly placed serves in the back left corner of the court ended Kent State’s evening.

“They were making some clutch digs and clutch serves in those last couple points,” Gromala said. “They made big plays at big moments, and I think that was kind of the difference.”

Wilhelm said execution will be critical in the next match if the team is to defeat the Chippewas.

“Executing and starting off stronger will be big,” Wilhelm said. “We can’t start off slow and expect to win.”

Saturday’s home match begins at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

Contact Jimmy Miller at j[email protected].