It was a clash of green and white in The Convo Friday evening. Mid-American Conference West member Eastern Michigan made the trip to Athens for one match against Ohio. The Bobcats were defeated 3-2 on their home court.
The Bobcats (1-15, 1-4 MAC) started set one with a three-point scoring run, but it was not enough to keep the Eagles (7-9, 2-3 MAC) down. The Eagles soared over the Bobcats after two pivotal four-point scoring runs. The set point rally put an exclamation mark on the game when it showed the Eagles’ gritty defense. Raeven Chase put up a block for the Eagles and claimed their first victory of the evening.
Ohio turned the tables in set two. Maggie Nedoma and Olivia Margolies used their powerful swings to keep the Bobcats in a six-point scoring run that secured the lead for Ohio. There was not much Eastern Michigan could do to keep the two down the rest of the set, and their efforts, combined with errors from the opposition, powered Ohio into an unstoppable offensive pattern. Ohio took the set 25-15 and showed it would not back down without a fight.
The Bobcats kept their energy in set three as they fought the Eagles tooth and nail for the match lead. However, the errors tacked on as both teams were more frantic for the win. The teams combined for four or more consecutive errors at two separate points in the match. Clean ball handling was no longer a priority — winning was.
Ohio came out of the set with a 25-21 win after driving several kills across the net.
“We took some really aggressive swings,” Ohio assistant coach Amanda Peterson said. “I think one of the keys is playing together as a team and we talk a lot about getting your sisters’ back. The culture on the court is important to us.”
The Eagles dug their talons into the Bobcats in set four, however. The set ran tight, and it seemed as if the back-and-forth pattern would never end. But despite the Eagles’ set-tying attack error, they would be the ones to buck the trend. Two kills at the end gave them not only the set win, but it also took the match lead away from the Bobcats.
Ohio was down to the wire in set five. It had one last chance at snagging the win.
The Bobcats played evenly with the Eagles for the first half of the set as things were tied at 12-12. The lead became theirs after Elizabeth Hoerlein contributed a solo block that made the crowd roar. However, the errors of earlier returned to haunt the Bobcats.
Ohio lost the set to Eastern Michigan after a bad set by Nedoma and an attack error by Caroline Clippard. The set result led to a 3-2 match loss.
There were good moments in the loss, though. Junior Ashton Webb entered the starting lineup in The Convo for the first time this season.
Webb held emotion in her voice while she spoke about the moment her name was announced.
“It was surreal,” Webb said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
In her first start, she hit .500 and contributed nine digs through three sets played. Her presence on the court helped the Bobcats in several tense moments.
“One of the biggest things that I love about Ashton is the fight and the grit and the energy she brings to the court,” Peterson said. “I love having her out there because she really brings a lot of excitement, and I think that’s something that our team thrives off of.”
The Bobcats thrived in several moments Friday, but in the end, it was not enough to push them over the Eagles.