Ohio (4-2, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) was dominant in all facets of its match Friday against Bradley (2-6, 0-0 Missouri Valley Conference). Ohio took all three sets to win its first home match of the season, and extend its winning streak to four.
Olivia Margolies picked up where she left off last weekend at the Tulane Invitational, with two kills midway through set one. Although Margolies was off to a hot start, the Bobcats were still a bit sluggish and couldn't pull away from the Braves. The Braves went on a 3-0 scoring run after a few Bobcat errors to take a 17-15 lead.
However, the Bobcats steadied the ship and stormed in front after an 8-1 scoring run. The offensive charge was highlighted by five combined kills from Anna Kharchynska and Caitlin O'Farrell. Ohio would go on to win set one 25-21.
Ohio head coach Geoff Carlston attributed the scoring run in set one to an improvement on defense.
"We frankly weren't playing very good defense," Carlston said. "I think just stepping up our defense (helped), and I thought we served the ball a bit better."
The second set was just as contested as the first, and the Bobcats couldn't find a way to take the lead. The Braves held another 17-15 lead in set two, but the Bobcats fought back with a 6-0 scoring run capped by a Kharchynska kill. Kharchynska was electric at the end of set two and scored four of the Bobcats final seven points to complete the comeback.
The Bobcats saved their best performance for the third and last set. They scored the first five points of set three, and Margolies' second kill of the set kept them ahead. Margolies impactful performance in Friday's match was on par with how she's played all season.
"She does a lot of the dirty work, passing and playing defense," Carlston said. "And then offensively, she's really figured some things out this year."
O'Farrell took over in set three, totaling four kills in six plays. Her fifth kill of the set gave the Bobcats an 18-10 lead. The Bobcats would go on to win set three 25-17 and take the match 3-0.
O'Farrell led the Bobcats with 15 kills, while Kharchynska finished the match with 12. Sam Steele anchored the defense with a team-high 14 digs, and Margolies produced on both offense and defense with 9 kills and 11 digs.
Margolies attributes Ohio's high level of play to practice.
"We're playing as a team," Margolies said. "We're doing the little things in practice, and we're working really hard".
The Bobcats won't have much time to celebrate their first home win. The Bobcats will take on two new opponents Saturday when they try to win the Bobcat Invitational.