Ohio coach Deane Webb no longer has to hear the whispering.
For the moment, he’s free from the theories of how to replace former All-MAC players, the frustrations of missing key starters and the countdown to when Ohio would win its first game.
All because the Bobcats came out of the Black and Gold Invitational in Boone, North Carolina with a 2-1 record: a 3-0 win on Friday against Wofford, a 3-1 loss to UNC Wilmington, and a 3-0 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday.
“We looked at this weekend as a place to start our season,” Webb said. “And this was a good start.”
Webb felt Friday night was also a good start for redshirt junior middle blocker Ali Lake to show some commanding play at the net.
As a middle, Lake won’t receive the volume of hits that outside hitters like Mallory Salis and Jaime Kosiorek will see, but she tends to hit at a high percentage when the ball comes her way. She finished with six or more kills in all three matches over the weekend.
“She has a chance to be an absolutely dominant player in our conference this year,” Webb said.
She can only be dominant, however, with the development of freshman setter Katelyn Burke throughout the season.
Burke, now with a full team in place around her – this weekend marked the first time all Ohio starters were healthy – was finally able to gel with her teammates vocally on the court.
“I think I was starting to connect with Katelyn,” Lake said. “It was good, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Webb also added that with Burke only playing college volleyball for just a few weeks now, there’s still a lot of work to do, but overall was happy with Burke’s location on her passing over the weekend.
After an unexpected start to the season for Salis, she had a lot to feel good about after Saturday night.
She topped off the weekend with 39 kills, eight service aces and 29 digs as she and Kosiorek were selected as members of the All-Black and Gold Invitational Team for Ohio.
“It cannot be overstated how good that kid is, at all phases of the game,” Webb said of Salis, having her back in full health for the tournament. “She’s just a tremendous athlete.”