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Ohio junior outside hitter Mallory Salis (#6) goes up for a kill against Miami during their MAC game at The Convo. 

Volleyball: Ohio readies its defense for Akron and Buffalo

Ohio's libero and leader on defense, Meredith Ashy, highlights a Bobcat team nationally ranked for its play on its own end.

As a coach on a team that completed two conference sweeps on the road last weekend, you wouldn’t think Deane Webb would have much to be upset about.

Ohio, however, is seeking improvement against Akron and Buffalo this weekend.

“Against Eastern Michigan, we were not as good defensively as we would have liked,” Webb said. “We didn't defend at the level that we're accustomed to defending at, and I like that our team took that personally. We didn't play at the level that we want. We want to go out and win, but we also want to pursue excellence.”

To put the Bobcats' defensive efficiency into perspective, in D-I play they are ranked second in the nation in digs per set (17.87) and fourth in opponent hitting percentage (.133).

The Bobcats’ success speaks much to the play of senior libero Meredith Ashy, who takes offense to any lack of effort on the back end.

Ashy, a two-time Mid-American Conference defensive player of the week winner this season, is even avoided by many opponents due to her skill in her area on the court, zone five.

Webb said there’s a struggle for opposing coaches to decide how to handle a libero like Ashy, but they ultimately must choose between two risks.

Webb explained how in one instance it takes the team out of its routine, attacking flow to hit away from her, but otherwise it can demoralize a team watching Ashy dig out each potential kill coming her way.

If the first plan is chosen, Ashy looks bored on the court at times, potentially taking her out of her rhythm.

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“It’s a challenging situation,” Webb said. “We want her to be very aggressive in her area, not try to do too much or come in front of other players who are already set, but she’s just an outstanding player, and we’re glad to have her.”

Ashy, and the rest of Ohio’s players, will channel some of their frustration from their previous performance into practice as they brace themselves for another MAC matchup.

“I have progressed as a player in the back row,” Ashy said earlier this season of her coaches’ respect of her play. “I think there are some things I can improve on. Every day I can improve.”

nk596613@ohio.edu

@NKairys

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