Ohio came close to picking up a win over Buffalo Friday, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Ohio (10-8, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) lost the match in five sets, which was just its second loss at home this year. The loss ended Ohio's two-match win streak this season and its six-match win streak against Buffalo (11-9, 3-5 MAC).
The Bobcats played very well in the beginning of set one. Elizabeth Hoerlein made an immediate impact on offense with back-to-back kills to give the Bobcats a 3-0 lead. Lauren Park also started a successful offensive night with three kills early in set one.
After a slew of errors from both teams, the Bobcats took a 17-13 lead. Right when the Bobcats thought they had the set won, the Bulls scored five straight points to take a 21-20 lead. The lead went back and forth, and after several opportunities to win the set slipped away, an attack error by the Bulls finally gave the Bobcats the set one victory 29-27.
The Bulls set the tone in set two with five of the first seven points. However, the Bobcats didn't go down easy. Olivia Margolies cut their deficit to just one point midway through the set, but the Bulls went on a 7-2 scoring run to create a huge lead that the Bobcats couldn't come back from. Buffalo won the second set 25-19 and tied the match.
The Bobcats flipped the script in the third set and took a 7-3 lead. The lead was powered by the Bobcats 5-0 scoring run and four Bulls errors.
Buffalo tied the third set at 13, but Ohio regained the lead on a scoring run capped by Kristy Frank's kill. Three straight Buffalo points cut the Ohio's lead to two, but Ohio eventually won the set 25-22 on a kill from Margolies. Ohio was now just one set away from victory.
The fourth set looked like it would be just as close as the one before when the Bobcats held a slim 7-6 lead. The Bulls then went on a massive 10-2 scoring run to give them a 16-9 lead and put the Bobcats in a difficult spot. They didn't give up, and a kill from Caroline Clippard cut the Bobcats deficit to three.
The Bobcats didn't gain much ground until Caitlin O'Farrell earned a kill that made the score 23-21. Despite the resiliency from the Bobcats, the Bulls' lead proved to be too much and they won the fourth set 25-21.
The Bulls' fourth set victory brought up a match-deciding set five, and the Bobcats rose to the occasion early with three of the first four points. Margolies, O'Farrell and Anna Kharchynska all had kills to give the Bobcats an early lead.
However, two errors in three plays from Ohio gave the Buffalo the lead. It pushed ahead with two kills and an ace, and Buffalo ultimately won the match-deciding set 15-12.
Ohio coach Geoff Carlston complimented Buffalo for its level of play throughout the match.
"Buffalo competed really hard tonight, and that was the difference," Carlston said. "I think they competed and took big swings and that's what you need to do to win. I thought we didn't do that. Kudos to them, they played better than us frankly."
Clippard and Margolies led Ohio with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Sam Steele and Margolies earned more than 20 digs.
Steele was disappointed in the Bobcats performance, but is confident they can play better on Saturday.
"I think we didn't play how we knew we could play today, which is disappointing, but we also know we can learn from that," Steele said. "We know how hard we worked, and we know that we can come back and beat this team."
Carlston knows the game plan was put in place, but feels the Bobcats need to execute it better to beat the Bulls on Saturday.
"We had a game plan," Carlston said. "I don't think we followed it very well. We'll go back to the drawing board and get ready for tomorrow."