The Bobcats were one point away from losing the second set three different times. Ball State capitalized on the third opportunity.
Ohio (12-8, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) gave its opponent too many chances as it lost 3-0 (20-25, 25-27, 24-26) at home against the Cardinals Friday.
This sweep wasn’t like normal, though. The Bobcats weren’t dominated by a better team, and they beat themselves. Ohio struggled offensively all night with 20 attacking errors, 10 of which came in the third set.
The most costly error came on the last point of the second set when middle blocker Tia Jimerson was blocked, and Ball State took a 2-0 lead.
“We had way too many unforced errors tonight,” coach Deane Webb said. “We hit 16 balls out of bounds, and in a game that is that close, you have to take care of the ball.”
The Bobcats did not take care of the ball, however, and had just a .165 hitting percentage. That number would have been much worse if it weren’t for junior Maggie Nedoma, who hit .281 with 12 kills in the absence of Lizzie Stephens.
“With Lizzie being there, it helped having someone else where, to me, it felt like, ‘OK, we’re going to go to Lizzie. That’s our senior leader,’“ Nedoma said. “Now that she is not with us right now, I feel like it’s been a lot. Everyone’s just been trying to motivate me to work back into that position.”
Nedoma’s efforts weren’t enough, though, and Ohio suffered its second sweep of the season. Stephens’ presence on the court was missed not only by her teammates but by her coach, too.
“The big piece for Lizzie is that there is no replacing her experience,” Webb said. “She’s been in those situations before. She’s been in long matches. She’s been in close sets. She is a glue kid. She makes everybody out there better, and without a doubt, we miss having her out there.”
Stephen’s injury opened the door for Lauren Park to make a statement on the team, and she had her moments, but it ultimately was a losing effort, as the Bobcats dropped their third conference match.
As for Saturday’s match against Toledo, Webb made it clear what Ohio needs to do to avoid being swept for the weekend.
“I’m the person in charge of the offense,“ he said. “Tonight, we weren’t good enough on offense. So, I have to be better tomorrow, and the team does as well.”