Losing by four with Buffalo just three points away from winning the set, it looked as if Ohio would have to play at least one more set to clinch a Mid-American Conference Tournament spot.
Then, junior Maggie Nedoma and freshman Olivia Margolies stepped in and took the lead in a six-point run before winning the set and sweeping the Bulls.
The Bobcats clinched a MAC Tournament spot in their third-straight sweep Friday night in The Convo. Nedoma and Margolies led the team with 12 and 14 kills, respectively, in Ohio’s 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-23) sweep of Buffalo.
“Olivia and Maggie, that was pretty much the story all night,” coach Deane Webb said. “They were really, really good.”
The pair had nearly identical performances.
Margolies had a .464 hitting percentage. Nedoma was at .458.
Both had one error. Margolies had just four more attacks.
The attack from the outside kept Buffalo’s defense guessing and allowed Ohio’s offense to flourish with a .337 team hitting percentage.
“As a team, we were fired up because this was a good game and good competition,” Margolies said. “I was just ready, and I was ready to go, and I was hype. Our team, we were all playing well together so that was good starting off.”
Margolies started off better than anyone else on the floor with nine kills in the first set. She’s only a freshman, and that’s something the coaching staff is excited about.
“She’s a good player now, but as she has a spring in the weight room, she’s going to become a great player sooner rather than later,” Webb said. “She has a great volleyball IQ.”
Her volleyball IQ is what kept her hitting percentage so high with just one error Friday night. Nedoma was the same way.
“This was one of (Nedoma’s) more consistent performances from start to finish,” Webb said. “She had a lot of timely kills.”
Perhaps the timeliest of Nedoma’s 12 kills came late in the first set when she extended Ohio’s lead to two points. The Bobcats never lost that lead and won the set by three points, the largest margin of the match.
Ohio was happy to win those close sets. Now, it can keep its legs fresh for the regular season finale Saturday against Akron.
“The fact that we could beat them out in both games in really close sets and even in three (sets) because now we have Akron tomorrow,” Nedoma said. “So instead of playing five sets in three hours our legs are going to be a little more rested for Akron tomorrow. So, it was really good to win this.”
The Bobcats have a chance Saturday to jump the Zips at 5 p.m. in the standings and advance their position in the MAC Tournament with a win. Last time the two teams met, Ohio handed Akron its first MAC loss of the season in four sets.