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Redshirt freshman, Caitlin O'Farrell (12), hits the ball during the Bobcats first home game on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. The game was postponed to Saturday due to a county wide blackout.

Volleyball: Emily Margolies' breakout performance helps Ohio sweep Ball State

Emily Margolies saw action for the first time this season in Ohio’s 3-0 win against Ball State (6-6, 6-6 MAC) on Friday at The Convo. Margolies was a redshirt during the 2019 season and had yet to play during the 2021 season. 

Here’s the kicker: Margolies was not cleared to play in the match until the morning of. This, however, did not stop coach Deane Webb from putting her in minutes before the game began. 

Her start came in the absence of outside hitters Mariana Rodrigues and her twin sister, Olivia. Neither outside hitter played in either against Ball State, and Olivia has not been present for a match since the Feb. 18 loss at Bowling Green. 

Margolies coming in for the Bobcats was another prime example of Webb using Ohio’s flexibility to his advantage. With half of a position group missing, Webb had to get creative with his team and fill the voids where he could to defeat Ball State.  

In true Ohio fashion, Margolies embraced her position with open arms despite not usually being an outside hitter. Traditionally, she is an opposite hitter, meaning she’s used to hitting on the right side of the net. This did not stop her, though. Margolies took 19 swings, earning her 10 kills with four errors, tying her with Caitlin O’Farrell for the second-most kills of the day. 

The Bobcat stepped up in the defensive category as well. Her blocking and digging helped Ohio in its march to defeat the Cardinals. With three blocks in three sets, she had the second-highest number on the team, just behind 2019 MAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year Tia Jimerson. 

“I’m really proud of her putting in the work,” Webb said. “We came into this weekend really, really limited at the outside hitter position. Last night, we had a setter playing outside … and so, even though outside hitter is not her normal position, at least hitter is in part of her normal position title.”

That setter was freshman Tria McLean, who came into Thursday’s match in the same position Margolies would step into Friday. 

Webb was thankful to have Margolies in the position because it gave him another option at outside hitter, where the pool seemed to be running dry. Her abilities provided an extra boost that helped a struggling back row in several instances. Her aggressiveness and blocking experience were useful to the Bobcats against a hungry Cardinals team.

Her skill sets are different than that of Rodrigues, but that doesn’t worry Webb. He knows her ball control and ability to see the court will help her be able to adjust to the new role. She showed her potential in Friday’s match when she forced Ball State to dig the kill and pick up a forced error. 

“It was so much fun,” Margolies said. “I love the girls, and I love playing with my teammates and being able to be out there with them.” 


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