Check out this video link for a recap of Ohio's five-set loss to Ball State on March 4, 2021, brought to you by WOUB Bobcat Sports Showcase reporter Chloe' Gee.

Ohio Volleyball: Bobcats Can’t Seal the Deal, Lose in Five to Ball State

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Up 2-0 going into set three, coach Deane Webb knew his team should have kept the foot on the peddle.

“You can’t expect to coast across the finish line. You can’t expect to get a good win in the second set and just think you’re going to get the third set,” Webb said after the game. “You have to go out and scrap, fight, earn every point […] we just didn’t come out of the locker room the way that we should have.”

The Ball State Cardinals (6-5) were able to seize the momentum on Thursday in the Convocation Center, and come back to win 3-2 against the Bobcats (4-4).

The two pressure points that kept the Bobcats from securing the victory were their own errors and the Cardinals’ remarkable offensive efficiency. On one side, Ohio compiled 33 total errors compared to Ball State’s 17. On the other, the Cardinals hit 35% on the night, a number Webb said any team will struggle to win against.

“(Ball State was) outstanding on offense tonight, they had four sets they hit .375 or higher,” Webb said. “You’re just not going to win a lot of matches when you play a team that does that on their offense.”

The Bobcats’ home affair against Ball State was the first time they had played since Feb. 18, when Ohio fell to Bowling Green 3-1. Four games between then and now were postponed due to Coronavirus compilations, and some rust might have been expected from the Bobcats, but coach Deane Webb felt his team’s issues came from other factors.

“If we can, after not playing for awhile, go up two sets to zero, then we can’t really blame it on rust,” Webb said. “It wasn’t the beginning of the match that was the problem, it was the end of the match.”

Ball State themselves hadn’t played since Feb. 19 themselves, as they had a game of their own against Western Michigan postponed.

(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)
(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)
(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)
(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)
(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)
(Nick Henthorn/WOUB)

Offensively, the Cardinals’ top performer was Natalie Mitchem, who finished with 16 kills, followed closely by Marie Plitt and Kia Holder.

The Bobcats were more of a one-woman show Thursday, as Lauren Park racked up the highest kill count of her career. The junior finished with 28 kills in what was a bitter sweet night.

“Personal success aside, I’m more determined to come back stronger as a team tomorrow,” Park said. “Because that’s’ the ultimate goal is to win games.”

While Park may not have focused on her career game, her coach saw Thursday’s performance as a moment of work paying off for his player.

“I’m happy for her success, but I’m proud of her work,” Webb said. “The work creates these type of moments and that’s one of the things I really believe college athletics is about.”

The outside hitter was joined in double figures by Caitlin O’Farrell with 15, Tia Jimerson with 12, and Maggie Nedoma, who finished with 10 kills. Offense was not the problem against the Cardinals though, and after the game Park was already thinking about what the Bobcats could do better up front defensively.

“I think today our eyes were just a little off and that’s why our hands were also off,” Park said of her team’s defense. “So I think just better eyes, better hands is all we need to do to get better for tomorrow.”

The Bobcats will have a chance to make those adjustments overnight, as the two squads will return to the Convo with less than 24-hours rest tomorrow, Friday at 2:00 p.m.