Updated Thu, Nov 1, 2012 1:39 pm
The Bobcats have won 11-straight matches; during that streak, they have only dropped four sets. Yet dating back to Sep. 27, Ohio has only played two matches away from the friendly confines of the Convocation Center. With a spot in MAC tournament already secured after beating Miami last Friday, the Bobcats truly control their own destiny, as a four-game road test concludes the regular season.
Just before the aforementioned stretch of home matches, the Bobcats had a similar stretch of five away matches. Ohio’s three-game trip to North Carolina resulted in two losses, and the Bobcats dropped their first conference match in straight sets at Bowling Green. Overall, Ohio dropped three of five contests against both MAC and non-conference opponents.
With a three-set win against Bowling Green last Saturday, though, the Bobcats looked like a completely new team compared to the squad that went to Northwest Ohio. They have four remaining matches: at Kent State on Nov. 1, at Central Michigan on Nov. 3, and at Buffalo and Akron on Nov. 8 and 9, respectively. Although Ohio has shutout three of their next four opponents in previous home matches this season—it has yet to play Central Michigan—the loss of home-court advantage may prove to be a crucial variable in the final four games.
“They will be extremely difficult, not only because they’re road games, but three of them are road games we’ve already played once,” said head coach Ryan Theis. “So now they have the comfort of knowing what we like to do and the comfort of being at home…teams are really motivated this time of year and that makes it harder.”
Of those teams is Kent State, whom is vying for a spot in the MAC Tournament, and a win against Ohio would be valuable to its postseason campaign.
“(Kent State) has a different offense since the last time we played them. They have some different servers, have two setters instead of one, have a different right side. They’re a totally different team,” said Theis.
It was Central Michigan that knocked Ohio out of the MAC Tournament in a 3-0 sweep last season, preventing Ohio from participating in the MAC Championship for their first time since 2002. Theis expects the defending MAC Tournament Champions to be back in full-form, despite the Chippewas’ poor play this past weekend.
In the same week the Bobcats are hitting the road, senior Faith Robbins earned the first conference award of her career, MAC offensive player of the week, while freshman Meredith Ashy received her second MAC defensive player of the week award. This is the second time this season that Ohio has swept weekly offensive and defensive categories.
At the completion of the next four matches, Ohio will turn its attention to the MAC Tournament, Nov. 16-18 in Geneva, Ohio. Theis, however, is not looking that far into the future. He is focusing on Ohio’s final four-game road stint.
“We’re expecting a fight. What happened against them the first time is irrelevant…We’ll have to try and execute on our part now.”