Ohio entered the weekend two matches above .500 in Mid-American Conference play and tied for third in the MAC East. It left at .500 and alone at fourth place in the MAC East.
The Bobcats (13-10, 5-5 MAC) lost both of their matches against Western Michigan on Friday and Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Ohio should have won this match on paper, but still lost to Western Michigan 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 16-25, 25-12, 10-15). The Bobcats scored more points, had a higher hitting percentage and played better defensively in the loss. Ohio had a .217 hitting percentage and only allowed a .165 percentage. It also had 14 blocks with no blocking errors Friday.
The Bobcats’ inconsistency was their ultimate downfall. They hit above .350 in the two sets they won but were under .200 in each set they lost, including a hitting percentage of zero in the third set.
Defensively, Ohio played well for most of the match but was dominated when it mattered most in the fifth set. The Bobcats gave up a .375 hitting percentage and 11 kills in the final set.
Ohio was unable to win close sets against Northern Illinois and lost 3-1 (25-13, 26-28, 23-25, 17-25). The Bobcats lost the second and third sets each by two points before having a .086 hitting percentage in the fourth set to lose their second match of the weekend.
Juniors Maggie Nedoma and Tia Jimerson were relatively quiet in the loss, with just 12 kills for Nedoma and 11 for Jimerson. Jimerson was also ineffective on defense with just one blocking assist.
Ohio continued to suffer in the absence of senior Lizzie Stephens, as it lost its third of its last four matches. While young players like Lauren Park and Olivia Margolies have stepped up, they have not been able to reproduce the level of production Stephens brings to the team.
These two losses come at a very untimely point of the season. The Bobcats are traveling to Miami and Bowling Green next weekend for what could shape up to be the most important weekend of the season in the MAC East. Ohio can’t afford to drop below .500 and risk losing positioning or even a spot in the MAC Tournament at the end of the season.