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Freshman setter Katelyn Burke (#13) and redshirt freshman outside hitter Carley Remmers (#10) go up to block a Western Kentucky shot on Friday, August 26, 2016 in the Convo. (CARL FONTICELLA | PHOTO EDITOR)

Volleyball: Ohio set for final non-conference matches

As Deane Webb sauntered into his weekly press conference he didn’t look like a man who’s being burdened by the program’s worst start in 15 years.

The third-year coach paused before he hit the podium, pulled a piece of chewing gum out of his mouth and tossed it in the trash bin beside him.

“My wife would kill me if she saw me chewing gum during a press conference,” he said with a half-smile.

Webb’s team, even if he doesn't show his concern, is coming off a 1-2 showing at the NIKE Invitational in Norman, Oklahoma and is preparing for its final non-conference matches of the year in Blacksburg, Virginia at the Hokie Invitational. The Bobcats will face Radford and host Virginia Tech on Friday morning and night, respectively.

Even with a 3-7 record, the Bobcats’ worst start since they started 2-8 in 2001, Webb said that his team’s performance is indicative of what he predicted they would would be when he was making the schedule this offseason.

“This is pretty close to where we thought (we would be),” Webb said. “You hope you win all of them. You never put out a schedule and say ‘I expect to lose all of these’. This is pretty close to where we thought we would be. When you schedule nine top-100 teams and start a lot of people who are learning out there.”

Fittingly, Webb was pleased with the way Ohio performed last weekend in Oklahoma, with good reason. The young team competed in their 7th consecutive road match and defeated Lamar on the trip.

But, Webb isn’t the only one who has maintained a positive outlook on the season.

Ali Lake, a redshirt junior outside hitter, admits that the nonconference schedule is just a tune-up of sorts before they begin the part of the season that the whole team knows truly matters the most: competing in the Mid-American Conference.

“I think it was a really big step towards our goal of MAC play,” Lake said. “We’re bonding as a team. I think we still have a lot of work to do. I think this weekend will be good to have before we start MAC play.”

Still, their opponents Friday are not to be overlooked.

Virginia Tech finished in the top-100 in RPI last season and Radford is 8-2, including a sweep of ACC opponent Wake Forrest.

Still, Webb can’t help but look forward to returning back to Athens in preparation for next weekend’s MAC opener.

The Bobcats will have just one day of competition this weekend, meaning they’ll have more time to prepare for the part of their schedule that can really define their season.

However, don’t think that Ohio is underestimating the importance of their final nonconference match-ups.

“This is an important weekend for us,” Webb said. “We’ve been moving up our levels of play and haven’t seen the results we’d like.”

@efelderstein14

ef684013@ohio.edu

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