Just one win behind Miami in the Mid-American Conference East Division standings, Ohio will hit the road to face the West Division’s Toledo on Friday and Ball State on Saturday, both at 7 p.m.
“We talk about going on that upward climb,” Mallory Salis said. “In the beginning we were coasting. Now we’re building. We’re on that battle in order to get to the MAC championship.”
Salis is coming off a weekend where she had 22 kills in back-to-back matches, both kill totals tying her career high. In return, she was named the MAC East Division Offensive Player of the Week – a first in her career.
Quite the turnaround after Salis was more responsible for collecting digs than swinging for kills when she was Ohio’s starting libero just two weeks ago.
Coach Deane Webb felt Salis’ talents could be better utilized in a defensive setting for the time being. With the position change possibly igniting a desire to be back to her old ways, Webb has to be pleased with the lineup decision he made.
“Mal had an incredible week,” Webb said. “She struggled early this year offensively and now she’s starting to come into her own. Very happy for her.”
In addition to her final statistics, Salis also had to feel content with the way she led a team missing two freshman starters, Sara Januszewski and Lizzie Stephens, as the two were out with injuries.
With the possibility of a lack of depth once again this weekend, Salis is expected to post similar numbers against both a Toledo team that took undefeated – in conference – Northern Illinois to five sets and a Ball State team with a confidence-driven 4-2 MAC record.
Webb, however, has confidence Salis has the drive to make it happen – and her setters believe she can too, they set Salis 59 times on average in the past two games.
With the starting setting position up for grabs, Salis relayed a message she probably gave herself two weeks ago: “In the end, it’s going to come down to who’s going to want it more and who’s going to work harder."