Ohio had finally found its stride this season, but its five-match winning streak came to an end at the hands of Akron in a 3-0 loss on Saturday. The loss against Akron was Ohio’s third match in four days, and fatigue had set in.
The first set was Ohio’s best of the night. Caroline Clippard notched back-to-back kills to give Ohio an early 8-7 lead, but Akron stormed back with two separate 3-0 scoring runs to retake the lead. Maggie Nedoma spurred a small rally with three kills which cut the deficit to two, but the rally came too late, and Ohio dropped set one.
The Bobcats (6-16, 6-5 Mid-American Conference) never recovered. Despite beginning the second set with a 6-4 lead, they allowed the Zips (10-13, 4-7 MAC) to go on a 7-1 run, which the Bobcats never came back from.
Ohio didn’t win a single set, but a positive from the match was the performance of freshman Makenna Schafer, who entered the match in the second set and kept the Bobcats within striking distance with two kills and two block assists. Ohio coach Geoff Carlston was impressed by Schafer’s performance in the second set and commented on her ability to adapt.
“She did exactly what we wanted from her,“ Carlston said. “She’s a freshman too, but every time I put her on the floor, she’s added to what we’re doing.”
Despite Schafer’s performance, the Bobcats weren’t able to get over the hump and take the second set. They came close after Schafer’s first kill brought them within a point, but the Zips went on a 6-2 run and eventually sealed the set.
Not much changed in the third set. Akron built up a steady lead with a 6-0 run that included two aces from Faith Johnson. Ohio attempted to fight back late in the set but was unable to come up with much more than a four-point rally to cut its deficit to four points. Akron scored the final three points to claim both the set and the match.
Despite suffering their 16th loss of the season, the Bobcats are optimistic. They won two of last three home matches and were on a five-match winning streak before Saturday. There are just seven matches left in the regular season, and libero Sam Steele believes the final stretch of the Bobcats’ season will be the most important.
“I think this next week in practice is going to be really important for us,“ Steele said. “We’re getting to the end of the season so staying together and playing together is going to be really important.”
Ohio’s winning streak was snapped, but its season isn’t over. It is still clinging to a winning record in the MAC. If it can rebound from its loss Saturday, Ohio might be able to finish its final stretch of the season on a high note.