Ohio (14-8, 8-3 Mid-American Conference) dominated its two-match series against Akron (5-17, 2-9 MAC) Friday and Saturday to improve its standing within the MAC. Ohio won the first match in three sets and backed up its performance on Saturday with a four-set win.
The two wins elevated the Bobcats' record to 8-3 in conference play, putting the team third in the MAC. The Bobcats are now only one game away from a share of first place.
The Bobcats didn't look like they would dominate the Zips early in the first set. The Zips held a 9-6 lead until the Bobcats went on an 11-3 scoring run that included two services aces from Tria McLean. An Olivia Margolies kill extended the Bobcats' lead, and Caitlin O'Farrell would put away the Zips in set one with three kills in four plays.
The Bobcats struggled to keep up the pressure in set two, and the Zips took a 7-4 lead. However, it was short-lived, and the Bobcats went on another scoring run. The Bobcats scored six straight points after key kills from O'Farrell. The Zips kept fighting in set two and even took an 18-17 lead, but once again, they were no match for the Bobcats. Offensive contributions from O'Farrell and Margolies helped them prevail in the second set. The Bobcats won 25-22 to take a 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats couldn't be stopped in the third set. They scored 13 of the first 16 points after strong play from O'Farrell and Caroline Clippard. The Bobcats refused to slow down and kills from Leah Rogers and Kristy Frank punctuated a dominant third set and victory. The Bobcats won the third set 25-13 and won the match 3-0.
O'Farrell led the team with 14 kills, while Margolies and Clippard had eight kills.
McLean played one of her best matches of the season, leading the team in assists, digs and service aces.
Ohio didn't skip a beat to start the second match Saturday. Two kills early on from Kristy Frank helped Ohio take an 8-4 lead, and after the two teams split the next six points, Ohio went on another scoring run. Akron had a slew of attack errors that killed any hope it had of winning the first set. Anna Kharchynska made it official with a kill to give Ohio a 25-13 set one victory.
After the Bobcats held a slight lead early in the second set, the Zips finally turned the tide with a 5-1 scoring run. The set remained close until the Zips started to pull away with four straight points. The Bobcats didn't go down quietly, but a Teagan Ochaya kill and an attack error from Clippard evened the match at one set apiece.
In a pivotal third set, the Bobcats set the tone, taking an 8-4 lead. O'Farrell had a burst of offense that included three kills in four plays to help the Bobcats take a seven-point lead midway through the third set. The Zips made a push that cut the Bobcat lead to just 20-17, but a kill from Margolies and an attack error from the Zips seemed to end their chances in the third. The Zips didn't give up hope, and two Faith Johnson service aces cut the Bobcat lead to just two. The two teams would split the next two points, and then the Zips scored three straight to set themselves up with set point. Facing their first form of adversity of the weekend, the Bobcats stepped up. Clippard's three kills in four plays gave the Bobcats a one-point lead, and two plays later, the Zips would commit a fatal attack error that put the Bobcats on top 29-27 in set three. The third set win gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was as close as the third, and the Bobcats clung to just a 13-12 lead at the halfway point. The Bobcats increased their lead to 19-16 , and then Frank and O'Farrell had kills that helped extend the Bobcats' lead to 22-16. The Zips couldn't manufacture a comeback late in the fourth set and kills from Clippard and Kharchynska gave the Bobcats a 25-19 win. The Bobcats won the match 3-1.
The second match against the Zips was a block party for the Bobcats. Kharchynska, O'Farrell and Margolies all went for season highs in blocks. O'Farrell went for six blocks, while Kharchynska and Margolies had four each.
O'Farrell had a team-high of 14 kills, Clippard was a close second with 13 and Margolies had 10. Margolies and Sam Steele were the team leaders in digs, and McLean and Parker Kwiatkowski led the team in assists.