Ohio faced multiple challenges in its weekend against Toledo. Not only was it still searching for its first win of the season, but it also began Mid-American Conference play and hosted its first pair of home matches this season.
Ohio had its work cut out for it against Toledo.
The Bobcats managed to sweep the Rockets on Friday night. The 3-0 win started conference play on the right foot and showed the Bobcats were better than their 11-match losing streak heading into Friday indicated.
Olivia Margolies led the team with 13 kills, and her passing in the back row kept the Bobcats from losing multiple volleys. Margolies’ attacking often came from the middle of the court. She used her position to her advantage by dropping her attacks into the back half of the court, where the Rockets were often vulnerable.
Friday also provided a first-hand look at Ohio’s new 6-2 offense, which utilized two setters throughout the match rather than sticking with one. Ohio setters Tria McLean and Parker Kwiatkowski have been splitting time in the position and reaped excellent results. Both contributed double-digit assists Friday, with McLean racking up 19 and Kwiatkowski recording 16.
However, Ohio’s offense only works if its passing game and defense carries the weight. On Saturday, Toledo’s offense stifled the previous night’s success.
The tables turned Saturday as Taylor Alt led the Rockets to an impressive outing. The Rockets led in points, kills, aces, assists and digs like the Bobcats did Friday. Alt herself was on another level, leading both teams with 17 kills.
Ohio’s weekend was a tale of two nights. Friday’s match showed what Ohio is capable of while Saturday’s match was a relapse into the struggles it faced during its nonconference schedule. Here’s what The Post learned from Ohio’s first two conference matches of the season:
Energy makes a difference
The Bobcats finally returned to The Convo after four weekends on the road, and the crowd for their opening match was eager to see them back at home. Family, students and others lined the bleachers to form the largest crowd in attendance of an Ohio home game since it faced Oklahoma in 2017. This contributed to an energy that took over the Bobcats and propelled them to sweep the Rockets.
However, that energy had dissipated by Saturday.
Toledo’s bench Saturday wasn’t just loud. It was rowdy, excited and hungry for a win. The players were constantly cheering and jumping during the match, making up for their lack of fans.
The Bobcats were communicating during the match, but there was apparent frustration. The excitement from the day before had vanished, and the Bobcats suffered as a result.
Ohio committed 18 errors Saturday, six of which came during the first set. It was unable to recover from these errors and often repeated the same mistakes. There was a slight dip in errors during the second set, but Ohio took a step back and racked up a match-high seven errors in set three.
The Bobcats would often send a ball over the baseline or watch a ball fall into the back half of their side of the court, which the Rockets used as an opportunity to run up the score.
Experience is vital
The Bobcats are young. Eight players on the roster are underclassmen, five of whom are in the Bobcats’ main rotation. The lack of experience may be solved as the season wears on, but the Bobcats are due for growing pains as young players settle into more significant roles. How long that development takes to turn into results has yet to be seen.