Athens, Ohio - Ohio clinched a share of its first-ever
Mid-American Conference East Division championship Friday night with a 15-2, 15-12, 3-15, 15-3 victory over Marshall Friday night in the Convocation Center. The Bobcat close the regular season with an overall record of 20-10, the second-highest victory total in school history and a conference mark of 12-6, tying the school standard.
Four Bobcats topped double figures in kills against the
Thundering Herd (4-26, 2-15), led by senior Amber Merrill with 16.
Classmates Kris Whitfield and Lori McColl added 15 and 14,
respectively, while Laura Hageman chipped in 11. Michelle Gil climbed to within 26 assists of a new single season record by tallying 54.
Led by its four seniors, who all started in their final home
game, Ohio jumped on Marshall early, running off 12 straight points after a 1-1 tie. The Bobcats answered a Thundering Herd point with two more for a 15-2 victory in the opener.
The momentum continued in the second as Ohio rattled off 10 points in a row to start the game. MU rallied with the next seven points, before Ohio stretched the lead to 13-9. The Herd trimmed the margin to 13-12 before the Bobcats captured
the last two points and a 15-12 victory.
Despite being down 2-0, Marshall did not give up. It outplayed Ohio in the third, hitting .472 to post an easy 15-3 decision. After a 6-0 lead, the Thundering Herd answered a Bobcat point with another seven to open a 13-1 advantage. After a couple of Ohio points, Marshall scored two of its own close to within two games to one.
However, the Bobcats regrouped, opening the fourth with four
straight points enroute to an 8-2 lead. Marshall added a point, but Ohio tallied the next seven to end the match 15-3.
The Thundering Herd saw four players top double figures in
kills, led by Sara Boyles with 13 (and a .440 hitting percentage). Tracey King, Jodi Fick and Grace Jones all added 11 kills in a losing effort.
Ohio will make its second MAC Tournament appearance in 20 years Tuesday in the quarterfinal round. The Bobcats, who will be seeded no lower than fifth, must wait until tomorrow's action to see who and where they will play. Should Bowling Green (at Buffalo) or Northern Illinois (at Western Michigan) lose, Ohio would be at home. Wins by both would send the Bobcats to BGSU for the opening match.