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.
Cricket and I were both catatonic after the loss to Western Michigan. The next day I took off on a Thanksgiving trip to visit my brother in Vermont, there were other disasters (most notably, the loss to Dayton)—-and what does one do in the face of such heartache? Life does go on. We cooked and ate. We cleared some trails in the Vermont woods with ten inches of new snow on the ground, we loaded up the basement with firewood. Or as Coach Webb said in his Weekly Presser, “For me, I’ll be in a deer stand in about three hours.”
But in over a decade of rooting for the OU team, I can’t remember a harder loss. Then again, every year’s team seems to me like the greatest ever (whether it’s true or not, I fully expect to feel this way again next fall), and perhaps my memory is selective.
No. It was the worst, the absolute worst.
On the night of the Western match, the atmosphere in the Convo was electric. We walked in early, the Ohio and Western players were warming up, plenty of devoted fans were already there, along with a few students. Katie Post’s father and grandparents were there, and Paul Cadamagnani sitting in the front row, and coach Joyce King from the Club team of the old days, and dozens of other fans and parents. The dozens became hundreds, then a couple of thousand. Jim Schauss was there, the Athletic Director. President McDavis and his wife were there. Out on the floor, the players were passing and passing. Passing is the bedrock of a volleyball match, and the team looked intent and confident. Because we were the #1 seeded team, we’d had a double bye and didn’t play our first match until Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t fond of that, and worried that the other teams might be more in the groove.
Didn’t seem like it, as we dusted Western Michigan in the first two sets. But they came back for the next two, we went into the fifth set, we had them 12-7 with victory three points away. But Western rose up, we fell down, and we bowed out 16-14.
Yes, it was the manner of it, that terrible final set. And five days later another fifth set, against Dayton. And that, too, we lost. You know all this. I just have to write it down as if convincing myself, still, that our 16-0 season in the MAC didn’t lead to a bid from the NCAA.
Coulda woulda mighta shoulda. But here we are, players, coaches, parents and fans. Hey, two of my best friends died of cancer in the last couple of years. People are getting choked and shot by the police in New York and Cleveland. Two hundred thousand people have been killed in Syria. Many people have bigger problems than a couple of volleyball losses—-yet for a time, it was hard to think of much else.
Now, with a tiny bit of perspective: What a fabulous season we had, right up until the end. The end just came a little sooner than we’d hoped.
Coach Deane Webb has forwarded a message from the American Volleyball Coaches Association that updates us about the tournament playoffs over the next two weekends.
MatchPointOhio, on Friday, will be watching the Ohio State/Wisconsin match, which starts at 5. The Wisconsin coach used to be Dayton’s coach, and Ohio State, which we beat so convincingly at Xavier near the start of the season, is coached by the former Bobcat coach, Geoff Carlston. Plenty of other great matches will follow, and here’s the AVCA pitch:
I hope this email finds you preparing to enjoy an exciting post season of college volleyball over the next few weeks. The AVCA marketing sub-committee and NCAA are hoping to enlist your help in making this the best championship possible. Included in this email is some information to help us spread the word to your fans, community, and program. We would like to encourage everyone to tune in to all of the television broadcasts. Even if you plan to attend one of the events in person or unable to tune in live, setting a recording for your TIVO or DVR will impact the TV ratings in a positive way.
This is a very important tool that networks use to make broadcast decisions which is critical to the health and growth of our sport. Volleyball has been built on a tight and loyal community and I would like to thank you in advance for your time and assistance.
The team was totally in synch on Saturday night against Miami. The Miami team that took us to five in Oxford, earlier in the fall (if we can call this fall: my pond is half frozen over), couldn’t get more than 16 points in any of the three sets. We didn’t have to win this match to bring the MAC Championship tournament back to the Convo in 2015, but it was lovely to go 16-0 in the conference this year.
We love Ohio! Gorgeous Ohio! We love Athens, we love the Convo, we’re happy to win championships right here.
Here’s a video from clips taken Saturday night against Miami:
Walking past the team locker room on Friday before the Bowling Green match, we found a quote on the wall from Booker T. Washington: “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” Also, a quote from Hesiod: “Badness you can get easily, in quantity; the road is smooth, and it lies close by. But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it.”
Hesiod on the locker room wall! Coach Webb explained that his mother was an English teacher for 20 years. Long live English classes!
And last night, going in to the Miami match, we found another quote, this one from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I’ll bet that resonated with team members who have been passing, setting, hitting and blocking the ball perhaps ten thousand times over the season.
Volleyball is a habit. (It’s my habit, for sure. I played Friday night with our local group, and didn’t walk out of the gym until 1:30 in the morning. Well, I hobbled out.)
In any case, I can only conclude that these classical exhortations have had their effect. We swept Bowling Green and we swept Miami. Last night’s match against Miami was a gem, played before a rockin’ crowd in the Convo.
Here’s the first of the videos from this weekend, made in a single day—my all-time record. Mallory Salis had such a night against BG that I focused the whole video on her hits. I’m never sure how to organize the mass of clips I take during a match, but this one was pretty much delivered on a plate. About half way through the second set, Abby gave Mal a set, Mal crushed it from the back row—so Abby gave her another. And another, and another. In the end Mal went 9 for 16. I believe she was happy to be hitting.