Ohio (8-7, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) needed to play its best to come up with a win over Mid-American Conference powerhouse Bowling Green Friday and Saturday. Instead it struggled, and Bowling Green won both matches easily.
The first set looked like it would be tightly contested after the two teams split the first 12 points of the night, but the Falcons (9-6, 4-0 Mid-American Conference) quickly created separation with a 9-1 scoring run. Two Tria McLean service aces combined with a fearsome kill by Elizabeth Hoerlein got the Bobcats within four points, but that was as close as they would come to victory in set one. The Falcons clinched the first set 25-17 with four straight points.
The second set was very similar to the first. The Bobcats stumbled and fell behind 13-6, which left them playing from behind the rest of the way. Despite strong efforts from Caitlin O'Farrell and Hoerlein, the Bobcats dropped the second set 25-16.
The Bobcats were finally able to stay competitive in the early stages of set three. Anna Kharchynska and Lauren Park made the difference, as both players combined for four of the first eight Bobcat points. After a 4-0 scoring run capped by a service ace from Parker Kwiatkowski, the Bobcats looked like they were on track to win the third set.
However, the Falcons had other plans. A scoring run of their own meant the Bobcats faced a deficit. O'Farrell and McLean's kills kept the Bobcats within a point late in set three. The Falcons were too much to handle, and they won the third set 25-22 to complete the sweep Friday.
Clippard's nine kills were the most for Ohio, and Hoerlein also had a strong match with six kills. Sam Steele was the only player to finish with double digits digs with 11.
In the first set Saturday, the Falcons set the tone with a five-point lead midway through. The Bobcats managed to fight back after a scoring run powered by two Kharchynska kills. Ultimately, the Falcons got the final push to put the Bobcats away and win the first set 25-18.
The Bobcats couldn't make the adjustments necessary to get off to a better start in the second set, and they once again fell behind 15-10. O'Farrell was her usual self offensively and kept the Bobcats close. The Bobcats were only down 22-20 before a service error took away their energy. The Falcons would score the next two points and win the second set 25-20.
The third set looked like it would end the way the others had, after the Bobcats faced a 4-1 deficit. However, a 5-0 run led by two Olivia Margolies kills vaulted them in front. The Bobcats continued their offensive surge and went on a 8-2 run to open a huge lead. After the Falcons cut the Bobcat lead to three, Clippard had two kills in three plays to keep the Bobcats' comfortable. The Falcons struggled to get close to the Bobcats lead, and a service error from the Falcons brought up set point. O'Farrell's kill gave the Bobcats their first and only set win of the weekend, 25-17.
The Bobcats kept up their strong play in the fourth set and immediately jumped out to a 9-5 lead. The Falcons responded with three straight points, but kills by Clippard and Kwiatkowski allowed the Bobcats to maintain their four point lead. The set continued to go back and forth, but the Falcons finally jumped back in front after two straight Lauren Hovey service aces.
The Falcons kept up their pressure, and had match point at 24-21. With very little hope, the Bobcats manufactured a scoring run. After an O'Farrell kill brought the Bobcats within two, Steele made things even more interesting with a service ace. An attack error from the Falcons and a Clippard kill gave the Bobcats set point. Petra Indrova's kill tied up the set at 25, and a service ace from the Falcons ended the Bobcats hopes. They would lose the set 27-25, and lose the match three sets to one.
O'Farrell led the Bobcats with 17 kills, and Margolies had a huge night defensively Saturday, leading the team with 18 digs.
Ultimately, the Bobcats didn't have enough this weekend, but their continued fight is still an encouraging sign.