Ohio's (17-9, 11-4 Mid-American Conference) entire regular season has led to this crucial two match series against first-place Ball State (21-6, 13-2 MAC). Because of its strong play throughout conference play, the Bobcats have all but punched their ticket to the MAC tournament. The only question that remains is how many matches the Bobcats will have to play in the MAC tournament, and who they will have to play.
There are only three matches left in the MAC regular season which means only three teams have a chance at the one seed in the MAC tournament. The standings for those teams are as follows.
1. Ball State (13-2)
2. Bowling Green (12-3)
3. Ohio (11-4)
The first-place team at the end of conference play gets home court advantage and a first-round bye. The second-place team gets a first-round bye, and the third-place team gets the consequence of having to play a feisty sixth-seeded team in the first round. As the standings look today it may seem as if the Bobcats need a miracle to grab the first seed, or even the second. But if the Bobcats can beat the Cardinals twice in the Convo, they would leap past the Cardinals in the standings, and would only need two losses from Bowling Green to grab sole possession of first place.
Luckily for Ohio, Bowling Green will travel to New York this weekend to take on a very skilled Buffalo team. As mentioned earlier, because of the first-round bye, the second seed still is very valuable. So regardless of what happens in Buffalo, Ohio picking up two wins this weekend would have massive MAC tournament implications. The problem is, beating Ball State twice is much easier said than done.
Opponent: Ball State
Dates and times: Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m.
After losing their first two conference matches of the season, the Cardinals have been untouchable. The Cardinals have won thirteen straight matches, and in that winning streak the Cardinals haven't even been to a fifth set. Recently the Cardinals have found a way to be even more dominant. In their last four matches the Cardinals have not lost a set, and one of those four matches was against current second-place team Bowling Green. By the time the Cardinals and Bobcats square off in the Convo, it will have been three weeks since the last time the Cardinals lost a set and six weeks since the last time the Cardinals lost a match. The Bobcats will have to be perfect to beat the Cardinals, and if they want any chance at the one or two seed, they will likely have to be perfect twice.
Since 2010 the Bobcats have a winning record against every team in the MAC except for one. The exception is the Cardinals, who since 2010 have beaten the Bobcats in 10 of the 15 matches. In that time, the Bobcats have never beaten the Cardinals twice in the same regular season. Recently, the Cardinals have been the thorn in the Bobcats' side. The Bobcats lost both matches against the Cardinals last season, and since 2018 the Bobcats are a putrid 1-7 against the Cardinals.
Player to watch
The Cardinals have an entire team full of players to watch, but Plitt is one of the premier difference makers in the MAC. Plitt is the only qualified player in the MAC with a hitting percentage over .400. Plitt leads the Cardinals in kills, and her 70 blocks are only four away from the team lead. Plitt won the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3. Plitt was one of three Cardinals to make the West division's Preseason All-MAC team.
The Bobcats have extremely long odds to move up in the standings this weekend, but the path is clear. They must pull off what has been impossible for the last six weeks, and beat the Cardinals twice.