It’s tournament time, Bobcat fans.
After winning six of its last seven matches, Ohio (12-7, 12-7 Mid-American Conference) earned the No. 3 seed in the MAC Tournament, which will take place Friday and Saturday. Due to the shortened season, only the top four teams in the MAC clinched a spot in the tournament, so the first stop for Ohio is the semifinal.
The first obstacle in the Bobcats’ path to the championship is the No. 2 seed Western Michigan Broncos.
This is not the first time the Bobcats and the Broncos have met this season. Ohio split its last series with the Broncos a game a piece. This time Ohio will only have one chance to earn a win and move on. Despite the differences in record, these two teams are equally matched, with offensive weapons on both sides of the court.
Here is everything you need to know before Ohio’s semifinal match against Western Michigan:
Opponent: Western Michigan Broncos (17-4, 17-4 Mid-American Conference)
Location: Stroh Center (Bowling Green, Ohio)
Time: Friday at 7 p.m.
How to watch: ESPN+
Meet the Opponent
It’s no surprise that Western Michigan is first in the MAC West Division. The Broncos lead the MAC in hitting percentage, kills and assists. Their dominant offense is what has led them to earn the two seed in the MAC Tournament.
Players to watch for: Western Michigan’s setter Logan Case is the secret weapon in its offense. Case made headlines this week, earning multiple awards including MAC Freshman of the Year and MAC Co-setter of the Year. She was also named to the All-MAC First Team and the MAC All-Freshman Team. Case had 104 assists in the series against Ohio on Mar. 19 and 20 and will be looking to top that number on Friday.
The MAC Player of the Year, Rachel Bontrager, will also be lining up at the net for the Broncos on Friday. Bontrager leads the MAC with 344 kills this season, averaging 4.59 kills per set. She also has the most points earned in the MAC with 374.
What happened last time?
When the Bobcats and the Broncos met back in March at The Convo, it was nothing short of an intense two-game series with quality play from both teams. On Mar. 19, Ohio came confident and ready to play, beating Western Michigan 3-1 and continuing its three-game win streak. In this match, Mariana Rodrigues fueled Ohio’s offense with 18 kills, and Sam Steele led the defense with 26 digs.
The Bobcats weren’t as prepared when the two teams met the next day. Western Michigan took the second match of the series 3-2 on Mar. 20 in The Convo. Both teams fought hard, but in the end Ohio ran out of gas, losing the decisive fifth set 6-15.
If the Bobcats pull off the upset in the Stroh Center on Friday, they will take on the winner of Bowling Green vs. Miami on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the championship. Bowling Green, who currently sits at 20-1 this season, is the team to beat in order to earn the coveted MAC champion title.