Don’t count the Bobcats out.
When Ohio gets behind early, it knows how to end the match with a win. This was the case on Wednesday when the Bobcats beat Toledo 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 15-4) in the Convo. Ohio got off to a slow start but didn’t get down on itself. Instead, it persevered.
In the first set, the Bobcats fell behind. Midway through the set, Toledo had already earned 11 kills, while Ohio had earned a meager four. The Rockets' front row looked much more in sync during set one, but the Bobcats looked frustrated. The faces of Ohio’s hitters showed sheer disappointment as they racked up eight attack errors in set one. The Bobcats also had eight attack errors in set three, the only other set they lost.
It was no surprise that the Bobcats started off slow. They had just come home from a huge comeback win at Kent State the day before and much like Wednesday’s match, the Kent State match went a full five sets. The Bobcats played hard Tuesday, leaving them tired in their match less than 24 hours later on Wednesday.
“We’re pretty beat up right now,” coach Deane Webb said. “When you look at this week and you know you’re going to play six matches in nine days, that’s just not normal. It’s not something that you normally ask bodies to do this far into a season.”
However, Ohio was not going to use its exhaustion as an excuse. The team rallied, giving all their effort, especially in the fifth and final set. The Bobcats were able to score the first five points in the fifth, leaving Toledo stunned.
“It was challenging,” Webb said. “But…to be able in the fifth set, to be that dominant, (I’m) just really proud of our team and the way they fought.”
The Bobcats were without starting outside hitter Lauren Park on Wednesday. Park left the previous day’s match with a leg injury. The whole team felt the effects to her loss, but instead of looking at it as a negative thing, they used Park’s absence as a motivator.
“At the beginning, it was kind of hard when we knew that (Lauren) was not playing.” Mariana Rodrigues said. “Before the game we said ‘let’s do this for Lauren’, and I think that’s what kept motivating us tonight.”
In addition, Ohio was also without opposite hitter Maggie Nedoma for part of the match on Wednesday. Nedoma left the court in set three in some pain and never returned.
Without some of their top hitters, the Bobcats needed someone to step up and in came Rodrigues. The junior scored 26 kills, showing what a team player she is. Even when asked about her career night, Rodrigues credited her team.
“I’m feeling good.” Rodrigues said. “I think my teammates helped; they were helping me every time…they did a good job defending (the attack).”
Dahlias Bouyer also helped fill the hole in Ohio’s hitting core. Playing in her first match since Feb. 12, Bouyer had eight kills on 14 attempts and ended the game with a kill percentage of .429. Bouyer also helped the Bobcats by assisting on three blocks.
Ohio will be working on short rest before its next match. The Bobcats will take on Western Michigan at home on Friday at 6 p.m.