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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: Bobcats' hot streak continues in 3-1 win over Western Michigan

Ohio and its head coach Deane Webb believe in its potential to be a great team, and that belief grew Friday night. 

Before its match against Western Michigan (13-4, 13-4 MAC), the Bobcats (9-6, 9-6 MAC) were down two of their upperclassmen leaders and best hitters. Lauren Park has been out since sustaining a lower body injury in Tuesday’s match at Kent State, and Maggie Nedoma left Wednesday’s match against Toledo with an unknown injury. 

The starting lineup may have been different when the lights went out in The Convo, but the same tough team walked onto the court looking to snap the Broncos’ seven-game win streak. 

The Bobcats got straight to work in set one by opening the match with a kill from Mariana Rodrigues. Ohio fought for each point on the board and never let itself get into a deficit higher than three. Sam Steele was constantly sliding around the court to keep rallies alive, and her work paid off, as Ohio won the first set 25-22. 

Set two was where the Bobcats began to struggle, and the Broncos danced all over them, literally. Western Michigan’s bench could be spotted doing dances like the limbo and “Cotton-Eyed Joe” during timeouts and challenges as a way to distract Webb and his crew. Ohio would go on to drop the set 25-20 but found the antics of the Western Michigan bench were not going to keep them distracted for long.

“We play our own little game when we have challenges,” Caitlin O’Farrell said. 

Rodrigues starting a set with a kill was a good omen for Ohio, as she repeated her action from the first set in the third. Her efforts were met with those by freshman middle blocker Elizabeth Hoerlein, who had only played one set all season before tonight. Together, they and O’Farrell worked to take down the Broncos 25-22 in the third set. 

“I didn’t want to be bossing her around, but I wanted to be there in a sense,” O’Farrell said, “(To) help remind her of stuff in case she gets flustered.” 

Hoerlein ended the night having played in three sets and finished with three kills on five attempts. She also added to the defensive side of things with her strong blocking ability. She was able to produce digs from the Broncos and earn Ohio points. 

These points were vital in the fourth set, as Ohio needed to win in order to take the match victory. After starting the set with a service error, the Bobcats quickly turned it around and picked up three points. Three points soon turned into a lead that the Bobcats never dropped in set four and would give the Bobcats a 3-1 win on the night.

“Now that we’ve won our first three, of course we’re in a good place,” said Webb. “We’ve talked a lot about ‘You go to something you haven’t done before.’ That creates belief, then ‘You go do it again,’ — it creates confirmation.”

The confirmation the Bobcats have been searching for lies in their current three-game winning streak that has developed due to their hectic four-match schedule for the week of March 15. Ohio still has one more against the Broncos, but its state of mind will be well going into the match on Saturday, March 20, at 2 p.m. in The Convo. 


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