MatchPointOhio celebrates the Ohio University women's volleyball team. Over the past decade, the Bobcats have been one of the most successful and competitive teams in the nation. Some of the accolades that the team has earned include:
- Six MAC regular-season titles
- Seven MAC Tournament titles
- Eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship, tied for the MAC record.
- 29-10 (.744) postseason record, including MAC and NCAA Tournaments
- NCAA Regional Semifinalist in 2005, qualified for Second Round four times.
Our match against Northern Illinois, one of two semi-final matches on Saturday night in Northern’s gym in DeKalb, was a tough one. By the end of it, standing among several parents of players on the team, there was a sense of pure misery.
I don’t know, perhaps the team didn’t feel this. But the Bobcat fans in the stands were unhappy. It didn’t feel like we’d played well. There were too many crushing hits by Northern, too many blocks (13 team blocks to our 4.) Clearly, it was not the end of the season we’d hoped for.
But an hour later, having downloaded the 150 clips I took of the match, a different story soon became evident. Yes, Northern had played well. They’d beaten us 25-21, 25-16, 25-19. Yet dozens of clips showed us winning points as we fought to stay in the match. Northern outplayed us, but it was a pretty good match.
The next night, watching Miami play Northern on ESPN, back home in Athens, Miami was putting up a good fight. They lost in three, having taken a total of 58 points in the match. But 58 was only two more than we scored the night before. (And in the final match of last year’s MAC Championship, in which we defeated Northern in three, they only managed to take 48 points.)
As I explain in the video, I think the loud and exuberant Northern fans had much to do with the sense in the gym that Northern was pulling off a complete rout. I’m sorry to say it, but the Northern fans behaved the way I wish OU’s fans would: loud, exuberant, happy with every winning point.
Some of it was the gym. Seating only 800, it was no larger than many high school gyms. This allows for a certain pressure to build up, for the wildness to grow. But the heart of it is that the Northern fans were putting out lots of energy and enthusiasm. Cricket and I only wish we could get the fans going in the Convo that way. Where’s Jim Post when we need him?!
In any case, you’ll see in the video that while we lost, we were putting up a pretty good fight.
This was the easy video. The small gym at Northern Illinois, seating only about 800, was perhaps half full. The Bobcats were clearly ready to go, they were having fun, the wind was blowing hard outside, but inside it was mostly going our way.
Toledo handed us a 3-1 defeat earlier in the season, but we rose up and took care of them Friday night, at our first match at the MAC Championships.
Go to the 2016 Match Videos page on the right, and click on the Toledo match. Plenty of great play coming up.
Here’s a video comprised of clips from several recent matches. I wanted to treat the team’s passing, as the bedrock of volleyball play. Then again, I open the video with some crushing blocks—by both us and our opponents—to show how less-than-great passes can lead to trouble. Then we continue to passes, then on to kills by both Jamie and Mal. Mal, especially, as I had wound up with a streak of Salis kills from the backcourt. I never know for sure what I’m going to come up with when videotaping a match. Afterward I look over the clips, and sometimes a theme emerges. What fun, in any case, to slow things down and see how plays unfold.
This has become an annual endeavor: to show the trials of the middle hitter, and especially of the middle blocker. You’ll see, over and over, how the middles of either team guess wrong, in their attempt to double-block the outside or offside hitter. Then, with Mal and Jamie, the other team’s middle has to defend against an attack from the back row—not to mention the danger that on any play, Steph or Katelyn might dump the ball.
No wonder Shelby Walker said last year that the outside hitter position was “so restful,” compared to a middle’s job.
It looks to me like the most difficult job on the team. The setter makes as many decisions, but she’s almost always on the attack. It’s the defense that tries one’s attention and quickness. As I say in the video, there’s no middle blocker who doesn’t get fooled, at least some of the time. We fooled Paige Hill from Miami, then we fooled Drew Norberg from Kent State—and they are great players. Well, that’s our job, and we’re doing it pretty well.
A solid performance against Akron, in our first match for 2016 within the MAC Conference. First Brooke Coleman passes the ball, then Ali Lake crushes it. Or that’s how it seemed to go, over and over. Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzXWOy-T-a0