Non-Conference Behind It, Ohio Volleyball Looks to MAC Play

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After an undefeated season in conference play, how can a team possibly out do itself the next season? Well that difficult proposition is the task of Ohio volleyball. After going 16-0 a season ago in the Mid-American Conference the Bobcats are aiming even higher this season.

“This team’s ultimate goal is an appearance in the Sweet 16.” senior libero Meredith Ashy said. The last time Ohio appeared in the Sweet 16 was the 2005 season, and there is no doubt that this team has the tools to do it.

The ‘Cats are powered by a pair of seniors, setter Abby Gilleland and the aforementioned Ashy. In addition, sophomore Jamie Kosiorek has been tasked with a key role as the leader on the team offensively. Through non-conference play she’s been up to the task as she leads the squad with 164 kills so far this season.

Non-conference play was sensational for Ohio. Although the team felt like they lost two winnable matches, against Michigan and Louisville, the ‘Cats are 10-3 entering MAC play. That is far better than the 7-6 record they had last year entering the MAC, and on top of that they defeated Kentucky in Lexington while the Wildcats were ranked No. 10 in the nation.

To top it all off Ohio won the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational in the team’s final pre-conference tournament with a pair of wins over Florida Gulf Coast and a win against Florida Atlantic. There’s no doubt the Bobcats are the favored team to win the MAC conference, but they still have their work cut out for them.

Friday and Saturday is the start of that work as Ohio will take on Bowling Green Friday night at 7 p.m., and then Saturday it will take on rival Miami.

Bowling Green has struggled to start the year as it sits at 4-9. Miami, on the other hand, has had a solid start to the season as it is 8-5 entering MAC play.

Miami started the year 0-3, but the RedHawks have gone 8-2 since that slow start. By far the biggest win in the RedHawks early season was a sweep of the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. The matchup between the RedHawks and Bobcats is bound to give everyone in the MAC a good barometer on how the conference will shake out at the top.

The toughest part of the year for Ohio comes with four road games in the final eight days of October. The ‘Cats will take on Western Michigan on Oct. 23, then Northern Illinois on Oct 24, Miami for a second time on Oct. 30, then Bowling Green on Halloween.

Along with attempting to push themselves to a Sweet-16 berth the Bobcats want a MAC tournament title more than ever. Last year Ohio was shocked when they were upset by Western Michigan in the MAC title game. While some on the team might not want to say it out loud, that loss clearly left a bad taste in the Bobcats’ mouths and the taste of victory this year would be all that much sweeter if Ohio could bring home a Mid-American Conference championship.