After losing four straight matches on the road, Ohio needed a win in its return to The Convo on Thursday night. It looked like the Bobcats might blow their opportunity to take control of the match after taking a 21-12 deficit in the second set.
Then they scored. Then they scored again. And again.
By the time Ohio’s scoring was over it had put up nine points in a row.
The Bobcats’ scoring run powered them to their second sweep over Kent State this season in a crucial 3-0 (25-15, 29-27, 28-26) win.
“I think it just showed a lot about our team and just how much they really wanted this win,” coach Deane Webb said. “This was a must-win. As far as getting into the postseason we had to have this one.”
Ohio (14-12, 6-7 Mid-American Conference) entered the match tied with Kent for fourth in the MAC East Division and needed to win to separate itself. The win is also important because after a four-match losing streak the Bobcats were searching for answers. Those answers were found during the nine-point streak.
“I think us as a team we needed that confidence,” graduate transfer Shayla Phillip said. “I totally think that gave it to us.”
Ohio used that confidence to be aggressive as junior Maggie Nedoma had six of her 11 kills in that stretch. The Bobcats finished the match with one of their strongest offensive performances of the season with a .306 hitting percentage.
The leader of the offensive charge was junior Tia Jimerson, who finished with 18 kills and no errors on a .857 hitting percentage.
“I think Tia, tonight, she had a lot of big swings, but she also had a pretty significant number of strategic balls,” Webb said. “She was not in a great place to take a big swing, but she took care of everyone, and didn’t just put it in but put it somewhere she can score.”
Jimerson’s performance was needed as Ohio has struggled offensively in the time since Lizzie Stephens went down with an injury. Stephens hasn’t played since Oct. 5 and the Bobcats have been 3-5 without her before Thursday.
Ohio will be looking to use its nine-point streak to show its resiliency moving forward with a match Saturday against Central Michigan.
“Central Michigan is a great team,” Webb said. “They’re, I believe, still tied for first in the conference and they are really, really good. They are really well balanced, and we will have to play at a really high level on Saturday.”
The Bobcats proved Thursday that they can play at that high level, and they will now look to take that run from a few points to a few matches.