Katie Nelson joined her teammates near the bench with a water bottle. Ohio had just taken a commanding 18-11 lead in the third set against IUPUI, forcing the Jaguars to call a timeout. Nelson let out a scream and showered a couple teammates with the mist of water from the bottle.
Ohio was taking back momentum that IUPUI gained from its second set win, and Nelson was leading the charge.
Her powerful swing and happy-go-lucky attitude were the catalysts for Ohio's 3-1(25-15, 17-25, 25-17, 25-21) win over IUPUI at the Bobcat Invitational on Saturday at The Convo. Nelson was second on the Bobcats with 11 kills and a dominant .409 hitting percentage, her highest in 2018.
Webb and the Bobcats tried to feed the 6-foot-4 Nelson with attacking attempts all weekend. The fifth-year coach believes that Nelson's talents and size are magnified when she plays as a right-side hitter instead of middle blocker, which she played last season. Webb implemented the transition this year.
"She struggled a little with the speed in the middle, having to move so far, so quick," Webb said, "On the right side, it's a more controlled space."
This weekend, the benefits of the transition came to fruition. Nelson's combined 41 kills led the Bobcats in the Bobcat Invitational and her .450 hitting percentage was second to Simone Miller's .611. Miller, however, had 55 less total attacks than Nelson.
Her dominant performance proved that her move to the right side was complete. Webb referred to Nelson's differences in play as a "game-changer" on Friday.
On Saturday, Nelson changed the game.
When the Bobcats' performance dipped on Saturday against IUPUI, Nelson's talents were constant. After Ohio dominated the first set on Saturday with a 25-15 win, its biggest set win of the season, the Bobcats' performance dipped. They dropped the second set 25-17 and struggled to flash the same level of power establish in the first set.
Nelson's performance, however, was constant. The Regina, Saskatchewan, native brought Ohio's focus back in the third set with five kills. The redshirt senior also had just two errors on 22 total attacks for the whole match.
Nelson took pride in her mannerisms, demeanor and her her ability to help keep Ohio's spirits high from her performances on the court.
As a routine starter under Webb, it's not often that Nelson's standing with Ohio's subs on the edge of the court. But when she is, a spectator with a sharp eye can notice the positive vibes Nelson always carries.
On Saturday, IUPUI was looking to surge ahead in a tight fourth set. It was a big moment for the Bobcats, who needed to put the Jaguars away for their first multi-win weekend of the season.
Nelson, who was briefly resting on Ohio's bench, was sharing a laugh and giving freshman Emily Walsh a shoulder massage.
"I like to bring fun to whatever I'm doing," Nelson said. "It's fun sometimes, when we're all in the zone and a little too focused, to loosen up and have a bit of fun."
Everything was going to be OK, and Nelson knew it.
-Tia Jimerson, who was absent this weekend with a lower-body injury, will be evaluated on week-to-week basis, according to Webb.
-Carley Remmers is also injured. She recently had a medical procedure at her home in Nebraska, according to Webb.