Ohio (10-7, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) picked up its first two M AC road wins this season on Thursday and Friday against Central Michigan (11-6, 4-2 MAC) and Eastern Michigan (1-16, 0-5 MAC).
After two straight losses to Bowling Green last week, the Bobcats played like a different team Thursday and Friday.
The Bobcats couldn't have gotten off to a better start in their first match against the Chippewas. They immediately took an 8-2 lead in set one with the help of Olivia Margolies, who had two kills in the first ten volleys. After the Chippewas trimmed the Bobcats' lead, Caroline Clippard had an offensive surge of her own with back-to-back kills. Clippard continued her offensive dominance later in the set with three more kills in six plays to help the Bobcats maintain their lead.
After a Margolies kill gave the Bobcats a 20-15 lead, the Chippewas came back to cut the Bobcats' lead to one point. As the Chippewas tried to claim the lead, the Bobcats halted their attempts with a Clippard kill. Elizabeth Hoerlein finished the pivotal first set with a kill to give the Bobcats a 25-22 set one win.
The Bobcats didn't have the same energy at the start of set two. After back-to-back attack errors, the Bobcats fell behind 10-6. The deficit didn't hinder the Bobcats, and they went on a 7-1 scoring run to take a two-point lead midway through set two. The set continued to go back and forth, and the Bobcats fell behind 17-15. A series of Chippewa attack errors helped the Bobcats retake and extend the lead, and from there, they didn't look back. The Bobcats scored the last four points of set two, and won the set 25-19.
The Chippewas kept up the pressure despite falling behind 2-0 in the match. They took a 12-7 lead midway through the third set and looked poised to take their first set of the night. The Bobcats played well while trailing, as a Caitlin O'Farrell kill cut the deficit to one. The Bobcats were still down three late into the third set until Margolies and O'Farrell combined for four kills in four plays to put the Bobcats back on top. Three straight Chippewa points led to another lead change, and the Bobcats were a point away from losing set three. When they needed it most, the Bobcats got a late offensive surge from Clippard and Margolies, and they won the final set 26-24.
Although the Bobcats only played three sets in the first match, Margolies, Clippard and O'Farrell finished with double-digit kills. Margolies led the team in kills with 14.
Sam Steele and Parker Kwiatkowski also had very solid performances. Kwiatkowski led the team with 38 assists, and Steele led the team with nine digs.
The Bobcats carried their energy from Thursday into Friday and took the lead in the first set against Eastern Michigan. This time, O'Farrell's kill gave the Bobcats a five-point lead midway through the first set. The Eagles kept fighting, and the Bobcats' lead quickly evaporated after an Eagle scoring run. After several lead changes, the Bobcats took a three-point lead late in set one, and a Margolies kill gave the Bobcats the set one victory, 25-23.
The second set was just as intense, and the first 20 volleys were split between the two teams. The Bobcats created a little separation after an Anna Kharchynska kill gave the Bobcats a two-point lead midway through set two. The lead continued to go back and forth, and the Eagles had a 21-20 lead late in set two before Margolies and O'Farrell combined for four kills in five plays to help the Bobcats win 25-21.
The Bobcats fell behind by five points midway through set three but scored five straight points, including three straight kills from Clippard. Despite the Bobcats' comeback, the Eagles ran away with the third set and won 25-22.
The Bobcats got back on track in set four and clung to a 13-8 lead midway through the set. The Eagles continued their fight and tied the set at 20 after three straight points, including two kills by Raevan Chase. A Steele service ace and a kill by Margolies gave the Bobcats a three-point lead in the match's closing stages. The Eagles held off the Bobcats with back-to-back points, but the Bobcats won the fourth set 25-22, the match 3-1 after an Eagle service error.
The Bobcats once again had three players earn double-digit kills. Margolies led the way with 16 kills, while O'Farrell was a strong contributor with 15 kills. Kharchynska also had a great performance with 10 kills. Maci Watrous and Steele both had a team-high with 18 digs.
The Bobcats' wins over Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan made for a significant bounce-back performance.