Ohio Volleyball Heads Out for First Conference Road Trip

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The Ohio Bobcats are entering their toughest test of the year. Tougher than at Oklahoma, at Virginia Tech or opening with ranked Western Kentucky.

This week, the Bobcats (6-8, 2-0) have their first Mid-American Conference road test of the year as they travel to Oxford to take on archrival Miami Redhawks (10-4, 2-0) on Thursday and then to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons (10-5, 0-2) on Friday.

On Thursday the Bobcats take on Miami, a team head coach Deane Webb calls “right now the best in the conference.”

Miami has beaten Xavier, Cincinnati, Missouri on the road and Auburn. They also opened conference play with two road wins over Bowling Green and Western Michigan.

Miami runs a 6-2 offense which means that their setter is always in the back row, making them more difficult to defend because they always have three attackers at the net. The Redhawks have four attackers that each have over 110 kills on the year and none of them have more than 45 errors on the season.

“They’re just really balanced. They’re an incredibly well coached team,” Webb said. “We know we have to earn our own points you’re not going to in there and expect they give you six unforced errors and we only have to score 19 of our own. We’re going to have to score probably 22 points per set.”

The Falcons are the surprise of the conference. They were picked fifth in the Eastern Division by the coaches in the preseason poll. The Falcons have opened up Mid-American Conference play at 0-2 but lost to Miami and Northern Illinois, two of the top three teams in the conference. Jalena Sunjic, a preseason All-MAC Eastern Division selection, has lived up to that billing so far. She comes into the weekend with 175 kills and 33 errors on nearly 400 swings. Coming in not far behind Sunjic is Alyssa Maloney with 161 kills. Defending those two will be tough but perhaps even tougher for the Bobcats is their mindset headed into the matchup.

“We talked to our team immediately after our match [against Buffalo] on Saturday. Hey look before you leave this room make sure you change your mindset with regards to what next weekend will be,” Webb said. “They’re just an outstanding team we didn’t want to wait until this week to talk about it.”

Ohio is coming off a nice weekend where they swept Akron and Buffalo. The wins really helped increase the confidence of the team. Ohio played a tough nonconference schedule and had been switching between setters. But now the job belongs to Stephanie Olman. She has been playing much better as of late and her confidence is growing. Despite only starting nine games, Olman has already had four games of 40 or more assists this year.

“I’m more confident now because the rolls have switched, but obviously my teammates are the ones who have made me confident so having them there has made me feel accepted into the roll,” Olman said after the victory over Buffalo.

Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m.