Ohio is making improvements. Its progress is slow, but results are beginning to show.
Ohio (2-15, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) took on Central Michigan (8-10, 2-4 MAC) in The Convo on Saturday, and showcased its defensive talents in a 3-2 victory for its second win of the season.
However, it didn’t look that way from the first set. Ohio began the set with two attack errors from Caroline Clippard to give Central Michigan a quick lead. Although Ohio regained the lead after two scoring runs and eventually claimed the set, its early troubles crept into the rest of the match.
The Chippewas went on multiple runs in set two that kept the Bobcats from finding a foothold. The Bobcats were running out of steam early, and they were losing grip on the set. Their ball handling became sloppier, and they shifted focus toward returning the ball any way they could.
But among the chaos were moments that kept the Bobcats in the match. Tria McLean recorded back-to-back service aces that chipped away at the Bobcats’ deficit. However, it was not enough to prevent the Chippewas from taking set two 25-19.
Ohio’s tug-of-war with Central Michigan persisted. An eight-point scoring run and strong blocking helped Ohio to claim set three, but Central Michigan shut down a late rally in the fourth set to keep the match even.
The Bobcats finished the match with 14 blocks to the Chippewas’ seven. Although the two teams were back-and-forth for most of the night, blocks played an integral role in keeping the Bobcats’ hopes alive.
“So much of blocking is about being aggressive and getting out there,” Ohio assistant coach Amanda Peterson said. “That’s what we focused on is making sure that our hands are over early and aggressive.”
That aggressive approach paid out.
Ciara Livingway provided a nice service turn in set five that allowed the Bobcats to rack up four-straight points and to build a small lead. The Chippewas responded with two points, but the Bobcats had wrestled full control of the final set.
After Clippard recorded a final kill to secure a victory, the Bobcats cheered with excitement. They recorded their second victory of the season and finally won a match that went to five sets. The win was not only Ohio’s second of the season but also its second win at home. Ohio is 0-5 on the road, but it is 2-2 when facing opponents in The Convo.
The Bobcats were able to secure a win during Homecoming weekend, but defensive specialist Sam Steele believes the win was just as sweet as any other at home.
“Any day’s a great day to play in The Convo,” Steele said.
Ohio secured its second win of the season and snapped its tendency to lose when matches are forced to go to five sets. It didn’t run away with the final set, but it finished the match leading in every category. Ohio’s progress has been slow-going, but the results began to show on Saturday.