‘Cats Look To Defend MAC Titles< < Back to
With Mid-American Conference play right around the corner, the Ohio volleyball team (7-4) will look to fend off eleven teams to repeat as regular season and tournament champions. After a tough nonconference schedule with many matches coming down to the wire, the Bobcats will use their experiences and tough work ethic and mentality to compete with every team in the MAC.
“There’s some teams in the MAC that I’m sure are more athletic than we are,” coach Deane Webb said at his weekly press conference Monday. "And some that are maybe less athletic … but we will always want to out-work our opponents and we always want to play harder on every point.
As MAC regular season champions for the past two seasons, the Bobcats are used to being the team to beat in conference play. First up for Ohio is Kent State followed by Central Michigan, two teams that junior setter Abby Gilleland and the Bobcats have gotten very familiar with over the seasons.
“They’ll challenge us just as a lot of the teams in the MAC do," Gilleland said. "They want to beat Ohio and we’re used to having a target on our back and we get excited to play them."
Ohio tips off with the Golden Flashes at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25 in the Convocation Center. The Convo will serve as the host site of the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament because the Bobcats won the regular season conference title a season ago.
The Bulls gained eight new faces in 2014 in hopes of replacing last year’s six seniors, including the MAC defensive player of the year. Leading the team this season is junior Tahleia Bishop who received All-MAC First Team honors last year with 400 kills and hit .244 on the year. Ohio defeated the Bulls in four sets in both matchups last season. The two teams will meet for the first time this season Oct. 3 in the Convo.
Kent State (8-5)
The Golden Flashes handed Ohio one of their two conference losses in 2013 and are hoping to do the same this season when they visit the Convo on Thursday, Sept. 24, for both teams’ MAC opener. Senior Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola has recorded double-digit kills in eight of 13 Kent State matches. So far the Golden Flashes are a perfect 4-0 on their home court. On Oct. 30, Ohio will face the atmosphere in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center for the teams’ second meeting in Kent.
The RedHawks are utilizing eight veterans and seven newcomers to give their team solid depth this season. They have shown a balanced offensive approach so far this season with four players already recording over 100 kills. In their final matchup last season, Miami took the Bobcats to five sets before Ohio took the victory. The Bobcats will travel to Oxford on Oct. 10 for the first matchup, and the RedHawks will travel to Athens Nov. 15 for both team’s final regular-season conference game.
The Zips are going with another balanced approach this season on both sides of the game. Akron has seven players who are averaging over one kill per set and four defenders posting two or more digs per set. Ohio swept the Zips in both of their matches last season and will look to win in the same fashion on Oct. 4 and Nov. 7.
Bowling Green (3-9)
BG is off to a slow start this season after finishing last season one spot behind the Bobcats in the East Division. The Falcon offense has appeared to be the determining factor for the team as they are 3-0 on the season when hitting at least .200. Last season the Bobcats swept the Falcons in their first meeting and then BG took Ohio to five sets on their home court. Ohio will travel to BG first this season and take on the Falcons Oct. 11.
Eastern Michigan (8-5)
Finishing close to the bottom of the West Division last season, the Eagles are looking to reach the top of the ranks this year in the MAC. Their record may not be an accurate interpretation of their skill and ability as they have faced team’s from power conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. Junior outside hitter Stacey Perinar has been pacing the offense for Eastern with her most recent performance earning her a spot on the 2014 Michigan Invitational all-tournament team. The Bobcats will face the Eagles late in the season Nov. 1 in Athens.
Western Michigan (8-5)
Six new Bronco players this season will look to a veteran setter and outside hitters this season, as the line-up remains largely the same as last season. Senior setter and 2013 First Team All-MAC selection Lexie Pawlik led the conference with an average of 11.17 assists per set in her first year with the Broncos and will provide consistency and leadership for the team. The Broncos will look to avenge last year’s close 3-2 loss to the Bobcats Oct. 24 when they visit the Convo.
Northern Illinois (7-7)
Last season the Bobcats swept their match with the Huskies but only outscored NIU by eight points over three sets. This season, Northern Illinois has found success in the service game and serve receive. The Huskies have recorded more than two times as many service aces as their opponents and have committed less than half the number of serve receive errors as their competitors. The Huskies will aim to contain the Bobcats’ aggressive service game when they travel to Athens on Oct. 25.
Ball State (6-7)
Last season Ball State finished tied with Toledo in the top spot of the West Division after stealing a five-setter in Athens to hand Ohio one of its two conferences losses. (Kelly Lamberti left the match in the third set with an injury.) The Cardinals look to be a key matchup for the Bobcats this season. Six-foot-4 middle blocker and right-side hitter Hayley Benson ranks first on the team in kills and blocks. The 2013 All-MAC First Team selection averages 2.37 kills per set, and she has recorded 48 blocks on the year so far. Ohio will take on Ball State on the road halfway through conference play Oct. 17 in Muncie, Ind.
Central Michigan (5-7)
After opening their season with six straight losses, CMU is riding a three-game win streak after sweeping the Cincinnati Invitational last weekend. Junior Angelique White has led the offensive attack all season for the Chippewas recording 105 kills and 55 blocks in 12 matches. Ohio outscored CMU 75-48 in their single matchup last season. It will try to beat the Chippewas on Sept. 27 in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Following a historic season that saw Toledo capture its first Mid-American Conference West Division title, the Rockets are fielding an almost brand-new starting lineup for 2014. The team has been plagued by errors so far this season, only hitting .123 and racking up 23 ball-handling errors to their opponents’ 12. The lone starter from last season, Brooke Frazer is hitting .242 and leading the team in blocks with 31. The Bobcats will travel to Toledo on Oct. 18 for their only matchup in the regular season.