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Ohio setter Katelyn Burke sets the ball during the Ohio vs FGCU match on August 27, 2016. Ohio lost 0-3 to FGCU. (LAUREN BACHO | PHOTO EDITOR)

Volleyball: Ohio heads to Appalachian State looking for first win

Ohio spent a lot of time with Louis this week at practice.

No, Louis isn’t a coach or a brand new recruit. It’s Ohio's serving machine.

Every minute during each of the three hour practices this week, Ohio will be receiving serves from Louis and trying hard to improve their service receives, a part of their game that has plagued them early this season.

For 180 minutes on Monday, at least one Bobcat received serves during practice, but that didn’t seem to help come Tuesday, when the Bobcats faced Marshall. The Bobcats dropped to 0-4 on the season in Huntington, West Virginia, where they lost to the Thundering Herd in five sets.

Ohio saw the 2016 debuts of redshirt sophomore Katie Nelson and senior Mallory Salis on Tuesday, but their comebacks weren't enough. The Bobcats didn’t struggle just in the serve receive. They struggled offensively. They struggled to pass. But where coach Deane Webb said they struggled the most was mentally.

Tuesday’s match saw 37 ties and 16 lead changes between the two teams, but Ohio relinquished the match on account of 27 errors.

Salis, who committed 10 errors on the night, said that many of the errors were a result of a lack of mental toughness.

“They put their heart into it, and we didn't,” she said. “They were the aggressive team, and we were the passive one. When you're the passive team, that's where the errors come out."

In both the second and third set, Ohio came back from 20-18 deficits to win 26-24. Given the team’s youth, Ohio sometimes doesn’t become frazzled when trailing, something Webb sees as an advantage.

However, Webb said the team needs to be more focused from the start in order to not fall behind early.

“We have to be ready by point one," he said. "I think in too many of the sets, we just waited for the sets to come to us instead of us really getting off to a good start. It's a learning lesson for our entire team.”

After having faced three top programs last weekend, including a similar program in Marshall on Tuesday, Ohio awaits three more non-conference programs this weekend.

The Bobcats will head to Boone, North Carolina, for the Black and Gold Invitational on the campus of Appalachian State. They will play Wofford on Friday afternoon, UNC-Wilmington on Saturday morning and the host Mountaineers on Saturday night.

Ohio has never faced Appalachian State nor Wofford, and has only faced UNC-Wilmington once.

Webb emphasized that playing, and beating, top non-conference programs is a priority.

Though his Bobcats haven’t gotten in the win column yet, Webb still knows that the program has shown the ability to beat quality non-conference opponents.

"We'll feel good about ourselves when we play good volleyball and beat good teams,” he said. “That's who we are. That's what our program is about."


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