Ohio Aims For 16-0 Mark In MAC< < Back to
Ohio volleyball will look to achieve a goal this weekend that was not even on the team’s radar at the beginning of play: go undefeated in Mid-American Conference play for the first time since 2006.
“Our goal that we wrote own at the beginning of the year was to win the regular season. We didn’t write it down to go 16-0,” coach Deane Webb said.
The Bobcats (21-4, 14-0 MAC) will face their first obstacle on the way to a spotless conference season Friday night against the Bowling Green Falcons (7-19, 4-10). Ohio swept the Falcons in their first match-up in Bowling Green on Oct. 11, but BGSU has had some time for it’s players to settle into their roles since then.
“Last time we played them, they had a big hitter just returning from injury and they were trying to figure out where to use her,” Webb said. “They got a couple of good wins and some really close losses. We know they are going to be good, ready to come out and play.”
Miami University will then visit the Convocation Center on Saturday night in hopes of spoiling Ohio’s history-making. The RedHawks (18-8, 7-3) sit second in the MAC-East behind the Bobcats and are riding a nine-game win streak of their own compared to Ohio’s 15.
“The best way to say it is they’re our equal,” Webb said. “They are the one team this year we’ve gone five (sets) with. They’re good and I can’t say enough about how good we’re going to have to play to beat them.”
The RedHawks come in second behind Ohio in kills, and they lead the MAC in digs. Miami boasts a very balanced offense, making them a difficult team to scout and prepare for.
“To me, it is always hard to stop teams that are balanced,” Webb said. “I think that’s one of our benefits and I would say that is also one of Miami’s big benefits. They have so many people that can score. I think when we are defending at a really high level we can stop a number of players.”
One dynamic factor for Miami is senior outside hitter/setter Meg Riley. The reigning MAC-East offensive player of the week is coming off of impressive performances from every position on the court last week. Webb said that her well-rounded style of play reminds him of Ohio’s own Kelly Lamberti.
“We are very similar in ways that we are very ‘shotty’ and find ways to score, which is always very hard to defend against,” Lamberti said. “I think with our team playing against me every day in practice and how good our defense has been in the past couple weeks, I think we are going to be fine.
With so many offensive weapons, Ohio will need to stay alert and diverse to keep the RedHawks on their toes.
“That’s going to be something that is very, very important,” Webb said. “If they are in system and they have three good hitters in the front row at all times, we are really going to struggle. Getting them out of system is going to be key. They can absolutely score on us and test our defense. It’s going to require a great effort on our part.”
In addition to a tough statistical match-up, the senior-day match will also bring a large emotional element, as a rival game for Ohio. Though Webb acknowledges how emotional Saturday will be, he and his team still have their eyes on the ultimate prize.
“Saturday is such a big day,” he said. “It’s senior day for our kids. It’s the end of the regular season. If we win Friday, then Saturday gets a little more special, but for us, our goal that we wrote down at the beginning of the year was to win the regular season.”
The Bobcats will host Bowling Green on Friday at 7 p.m. and then take on Miami on Saturday at 7 p.m.