Ohio (5-3) won one of its two matches Saturday. Ohio finished the Bobcat Invitational with two wins, but an opportunity slipped away.
Ohio was nearly perfect in its first set against Loyola Maryland (2-5). It immediately created a 7-1 lead in set one after Anna Kharchynska's third kill of the early set. The Bobcats' lead never got smaller than five in set one, and they won the set by 10.
The Bobcats were probably feeling something familiar in set two, as once again, they scored the first five points of the set; this time, their lead was 11-2 to start after Olivia Margolies' second kill of the set. The Bobcats cruised the rest of the way and won the second set 25-15.
The Grey Hounds turned the tables in set three and quickly built an 8-3 lead. The Bobcats didn't roll over and fought hard the rest of the set, trimming the deficit to one at set point. The Grey Hounds led 24-23, but Lauren Link kept her team alive with the set-winning kill.
Although the Bobcats looked good early in the fourth set, the Grey Hounds were quick to answer back. They went on a 7-1 scoring run midway through the fourth set to claim a 14-12 lead. The Bobcats were staring down a fifth set, trailing 16-14, but they put the match away with an 11-3 scoring run. The Bobcats won the fourth set 25-19 and the match three sets to one.
Olivia Margolies had a team-high 13 kills for the Ohio against Loyola Maryland. Kristy Frank had a solid offensive night with 11 kills. Sam Steele was her usual productive self defensively with a team-high 25 digs.
Ohio's final opponent of the weekend was Tennessee Tech (3-6), and Ohio had a lot on the line. The winner of the final match would win the Bobcat Invitational.
The Bobcats looked hungry in set one, scoring four straight points to take a 7-4 lead after a kill from Frank. The Bobcats were starting to pull away in set one after a Tria McLean service ace capped a 10-4 scoring run and gave the Bobcats a 19-11 lead. The Bobcats claimed the first set 25-19 after a set-winning kill from Frank.
The Bobcats fell behind 8-5 early in set two after giving up five straight points to the Golden Eagles. From that point on, the Bobcats struggled to find their footing. They strung together a couple of points after another McLean service ace, but they couldn't trim the lead to less than two. With a 13-11 lead midway through set two, the Golden Eagles went on a crushing 9-3 run and eventually won the set 25-20.
The Bobcats scored the first six points of the third set. Even though the Golden Eagles answered with three straight points, two straight errors kept the Bobcat lead at 5. The Bobcats then felt their lead slipping away, committing back-to-back errors while the Golden Eagles star Madolyn Isringhausen had four kills in five plays. Midway through set three, the Bobcats knew they were in a dogfight with a tied score of 13. Neither team could create much separation, and Caroline Clippard tied the set at 22. A service error from Steele couldn't have come at a worse time for the Bobcats, and a Golden Eagles service ace put away the Bobcats in a heartbreaking 25-22 set three loss.
The Golden Eagles were a well-oiled machine in set four and were once again able to overcome an early deficit. They took a 14-9 lead midway through set two. The Bobcats kept fighting and eventually cut the deficit to two, but once again, the Golden Eagles scored the final three points of the set and won the fourth set 25-20 to take the match three sets to one.
Frank was the only Bobcat with double-digit kills, finishing the match with 15. Caitlin O'Farrell ended the match with nine kills and three blocks.
The Bobcats' loss ended their five match winning streak and gave the Bobcat Invitational to the Golden Eagles. Despite the poor finish, the Bobcats can take away a lot of positives from the weekend in which they won two of three matches.