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Ohio's Mallory Sallis spikes the ball over the net during a game against Kent State on November 5, 2015. (ARIELLE BERGER | FILE)

Volleyball: Ohio meets Kent State in crucial conference matchup

Kent State has historically been a thorn in the side of Ohio.

The Bobcats had one loss at The Convo last year during conference play. It was to the Golden Flashes. In 2013, one of Ohio’s two conference losses came at the hands of Kent State.

But as the two prepare to meet once again Thursday night, the Bobcats realize that this isn’t the path either of them expected at this point in the season.

Ohio has had relatively early success so far in its conference schedule, but struggled early in the season against non-conference opponents.

On the other hand, Kent State has earned impressive victories against Montana, Morehead State and Robert Morris, but has suffered a number of embarrassing losses, including three consecutive losses to Dayton, Austin Peay and University of Evansville.

The Bobcats know that they can both forget the past because the only thing that matters now is conference play and getting into the conference tournament. And beating Kent State would be a huge step for that goal.

“I think they really understand that, this year, it’s all about going through conference and peaking for the conference tournament,” coach Deane Webb said. “We’ve talked about (it) since day one.”

Ohio has been preparing for conference play, but something that has caught it off-guard is changes it has had to made in its lineup.

Mallory Salis has gone from an illness to the outside hitter position to libero and then back to outside hitter.

The senior recorded a double-double last weekend against Bowling Green with 14 kills and 11 digs.

Not only has she had to adjust to new positions, but also the tempo of a new setter in Stephanie Olman.

“You don’t have a first year setter that immediately gets the tempo and (Olman) is working towards that,” Webb said. “I think (Salis) is getting used to being a good hitter on a slower ball.”

When the Bobcats and the Golden Flashes meet, they won’t know exactly what to expect from each other. They've both had somewhat of a rocky path.

The only thing they know for sure is that the result of the match will be crucial for both of them.

"You don’t know what kind of level they will be playing,” Webb said. “I just know that Kent State is always a good game.”

@efelderstein14

ef684013@ohio.edu

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