Ohio has come a long a way since its winless nonconference schedule, and it has the results to back it up.
Ohio (5-15, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) took on Kent State (9-12, 4-5 MAC) Wednesday night in The Convo, where it won 3-2 to take sole possession of second place in the MAC East.
Ohio came into Wednesday on a three-match winning streak, and it was clear why right out of the gate. The Bobcats got out to a 6-2 lead immediately in set one with Maggie Nedoma scoring two of the team’s first three points. Ohio then cooled off with a few errors and allowed Kent State to quickly get back into things.
The set was highly contested and had 10 different ties. Neither team could pull away until Ohio called a timeout with things tied at 21-21. The Bobcats scored four of the last five points, which included an Ashton Webb service ace to end the set 25-22.
It looked like the second set was going to be more of the same for the Bobcats, but they couldn’t finish like they did in the first. Although the Bobcats took the lead late in set two at 21-20, the Golden Flashes flipped the script by winning the final five points. Three of those points included errors from Ohio. The finish to the set was not what Ohio coach Geoff Carlston wanted to see.
“That’s probably the most frustrated I’ve been on them, and I basically thought we just didn’t play hard and play together, and we played sloppy,“ Carlston said.
Ohio looked like a different team in set three than the one who failed to score a point at the end of the second. It dominated, and Kent State never took the lead. Caitlin O’Farrell was key to Ohio’s success as she recorded four kills along with being part of a block.
“I was proud of and really happy with how we played in the third set,“ Carlston said.
Ohio got down early in set four and was never able to take the lead. Although the Bobcats ultimately lost the set, they played hard and won some long rallies which gave them energy in the late parts of the match.
The deciding fifth set was back-and-forth and started with a 7-7 tie. The Bobcats then went on a crucial scoring run, aided by a service ace from Webb to give the Bobcats a four-point lead. Webb finished with five service aces — a career-high. Caroline Clippard finished the match with her 19th kill to give the Bobcats a 3-2 win.
Ohio extended its winning streak and has now won its second straight match that went to five sets, something it struggled with earlier in the year. Ohio did it with strong serving, as its eight service aces were third most of the season, and Nedoma says it all stems from aggressiveness.
“People are going back to the serving line and they’re like, ‘Alright, I’m going to put some pace on this ball and it’s going to be an aggressive serve,“ Nedoma said. “And I think we’re doing a better job of being aggressive and keeping it in play.”
Not only are the Bobcats playing well, but now their hard work is being displayed with wins as they have catapulted to second place in the MAC East with their four-match win streak.