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Abby Gilleland jumps to set the ball in Ohio’s game against Bowling Green on Sept. 25. The Bobcats won 3-0 in the MAC opener at The Convo.

Volleyball: Ohio completes weekend sweep with win over Toledo, captures 11th straight victory

The Bobcats overcome scares on the weekend and find a way to defeat MAC opponents Ball State and Toledo.

Being the leading team in a conference has its perks, but for the time being, the Bobcats have a large target on their back.

“We said last year we needed to get pushed more than what we were,” coach Deane Webb said of the win over Ball State this weekend. “We certainly got pushed tonight all we could handle.”

Ohio (18-3, 8-0 MAC) answered the call on Friday and then against Toledo (3-18, 0-8 MAC) Saturday with a win (25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 25-10) on "blackout" night.

The victory against Toledo marked Ohio’s 11th-straight win, but the Rockets gave all they had on a night where the odds were stacked against them.

The worst team in the MAC, Toledo won its first set in four games versus Ohio and gave Ohio fits in the first three sets — which looked as if they could go either way.

“Our team struggles when we are playing teams that aren’t at the top,” Webb said. “Maybe they’re not as into it, they’re not as focused in the week, they’re not expecting to play great — whatever you want to call it.”

The good news for the Bobcats: at least one player has been focused and ready to go to be the featured attacker.

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Junior outside hitter Mallory Salis was that premier performer during the weekend with 15 kills on Saturday evening.

“Hats off to them,” Salis said of Toledo’s play. “We had to persevere and we fought through the tough spots and came out with a win.”

With all the close scares and pressures Ohio has faced during its undefeated MAC run so far, Webb wanted to give his players one over-arching message summarizing their recent matches.

“Don’t panic,” Webb said. “I’m going to ask the team tonight, ‘How did we find a way to win? When everything was wrong, when everything felt bad, when we were playing poorly, how did we do it?’ ”

The Bobcats will ponder their coach’s question before they go on the road this weekend to visit the two top teams of the MAC’s West Division in Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.

nk596613@ohio.edu

@NKairys

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