Ohio (12-8, 12-8 MAC) entered its first match of the Mid-American Conference tournament in Stroh Center already in the semifinals, squaring off with Western Michigan (18-4, 18-4 MAC) for a bid to the finals. The Bobcats fought hard against the Broncos but were unable to come out on top.
Ohio took only one set on Friday night, ultimately losing 3-1. This loss ended Ohio’s season, its chance to earn a MAC tournament title and a potential trip to the NCAA tournament.
Here are the numbers to know from Ohio’s 3-1 (25-19, 25-16, 19-25, 25-16) loss to the Broncos:
The Bobcats had their lowest hitting percentage of the night in set four. Oddly enough, it was only four under Western Michigan’s 0.086 in set three. The Broncos were able to overturn the Bobcats’ kills with ease, which sent the Bobcats defense into a scramble.
Western Michigan also held the lead for most of the match and did not allow the Bobcats many touches on the ball. Ohio’s hitting was not as clean as it has been this season. The Bobcats defense often opted for a tip rather than an attack, which made it easier for the Broncos to play the ball.
Ohio entered the match down two more of its regular starters due to unavailability. Tia Jimerson and Macy Reihing were both declared unavailable the morning of the semifinal, which added to the list of veteran players no longer at coach Deane Webb’s disposal. Ohio was already hurting in the hitting department due to Lauren Park being out due to injury.
Ohio was also without Mariana Rodrigues for the match. She was spotted on the bench during the match but did not play. Her attacking was sorely missed in a match Ohio needed Rodrigues most in. This missing puzzle piece added to the number of players Ohio was unable to use in the loss, leaving Webb without four of his most vital players.
Emily Margolies earned both a season and career-high kill total in the match against Western Michigan. Her 13 kills were the highest by any Bobcat in the match, but was closely followed by Caitlin O’Farrell with 11. Margolies was the offensive and defensive push Ohio needed at crucial moments. Her talent as only a sophomore shows growth with each match and might undergo another growth spurt come next season.
Sam Steele went for 28 digs on Friday. Steele’s performance stemmed from her repeated attempts to keep Ohio’s rallies alive as strong attacks were coming over from Western Michigan. Steele was constantly on the floor and was successful in most of her diving attempts. Her performance on Friday was not a season high for the freshman, but was a team high for Ohio.