Ohio began competition in the Mid-American Conference, or MAC, Friday, hosting Akron. You could feel the energy in the building before the first serve was made as Ohio tried to set the tone for a strong 2023 season in the MAC. An early 7-3 deficit did not hinder Ohio long in the first set, as it jumped out to an 11-8 lead after a 9-1 scoring run. After some stout defense from both teams, the score was knotted at 21. Akron found a groove to finish out the first set with an emphatic spike, winning 25-23.
Set two began with a lot of back-and-forth scoring, with neither team being able to gain enough momentum to gain control. The set became a battle between two teams that looked comfortable and whose players were working very well together. The closing few points all fell to the Zips and they closed out set two with a score of 25-21 and took a two-set lead over the Bobcats.
Akron, feeling the confidence from taking the first two sets, came out hot in set three, taking a 6-3 lead. Despite trailing by two sets, Ohio came back firing taking a 12-9 lead over Akron. Ohio kept up its rhythm holding a narrow 18-16 lead late in set three, hoping it could close out its first set win of the match. The buzz in the arena was palpable after Caitlin O’Farrell spiked the ball over the net to collect the winning point as Ohio won set three 25-20. The Bobcats had some momentum heading into the decisive fourth set down 2-1 to the Zips and hoped to make a comeback.
After a slow start to set four, Ohio Coach Geoff Carlston called an early timeout hoping to regroup and help the Bobcats turn it around. An early 7-point deficit would be chipped away throughout the fourth set. Ohio earned some hard-fought points along the way. The fight from the Bobcats allowed them to cut the Zips’ lead to three points late with a score of 22-19. Unfortunately for Ohio, trailing early was just too much to overcome, and Akron secured the win of the fourth set by a score of 25-19. This meant Akron took its third set of the match moving to 1-0 in conference play, while Ohio fell to 0-1 in the MAC.
Carlston gave some insight on how to improve Ohio’s Friday night performance looking ahead to Saturday’s contest against the Zips.
“We need to execute the game plan, as we know Akron is one of the best serving teams in the country that hurt us and got us unbalanced right away,” Carlston said. He also noted the defensive stability that his team presented and its importance moving forward in conference play. The Bobcats look to rebound tomorrow once again hosting the Zips at 4 p.m.