Ohio (1-12, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) was riding high heading into Saturday’s match. They knew what Toledo (10-4, 1-1 MAC) had in store for them after sweeping them 3-0 the night before.
But, the tables turned on the Bobcats. The Rockets returned the favor and swept them 3-0.
It seemed as if the match would go in Ohio’s favor after the first half of set one. Toledo had yet to settle in and was making mental errors while running out of rotation. However, things soon clicked for the visiting team. It took over the pace of the game after a pause in play where both benches were issued yellow cards, and never relinquished it.
The Rockets overpowered the Bobcats. Taylor Alt and Sinalauli’i Uluave created a deadly combination on the attack. The Bobcats did their best to control the speed of play by intermixing soft touches with hard hits, but it was not enough to stop the Rockets’ roaring offense.
The story was the same in set two. However, Ohio was rebuilding its defensive backbone. Maggie Nedoma and Emily Margolies contributed a collective three blocks that gave Ohio a breather in the midst of its scrambling.
“(Blocking) is everything,” Ohio libero Sam Steele said. “Our blockers help us in so many ways. We couldn’t do what we did without them in any game. That’s a big deal, it’s a big momentum swing, too.”
Steele also contributed to the defensive strategy of the Bobcats. She slid all over the court to keep the volley alive and led both teams in digs with 13.
Defense also came into play in the third set. Ila Angermeier entered to help with Ohio’s passing game, and she did her job well. She helped Ohio complete volleys and gave them more chances at earning points.
At the end of the match it was simply not the Bobcats’ day. Their trouble areas were highlighted by the Rockets.
“We’re still working on our eyes to see in the game,” coach Geoff Carlston said. “That hurt us… but really I think (it was) a little bit of everything.”
Toledo played to its strengths and to Ohio’s weaknesses. It also built a strong energy that was not matched by Ohio on and off of the court. Toledo’s bench was loud and riled up the few fans it had in attendance.
“I don’t compare benches and stuff like that,” Carlston said. “But I think for us, we’ve just got to make plays in that first set and then we’ve got to respond when we didn’t.”