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Bobcats Head coach Geoff Carlston talks to the team during a timeout at the game against the Toledo Rockets held at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio on Sept. 25, 2021.

Nonconference at the Net

Published August 15, 2022

Volleyball: Ohio to face tough nonconference schedule

By Christo Siegel | For The Post

Ohio has its work cut out for itself as the team faces a tough nonconference schedule to open the season. Ohio went 12-19 in 2021 and began its Mid-American Conference schedule 1-11 before coasting to a better record the rest of the way.

The Bobcats will face strong opponents during their nonconference bout, but that isn’t unfamiliar territory for them. They opened the 2021 season by taking on the No. 4 team at the time: Washington. Although Ohio lost 3-0, it was a valuable experience. It will serve Ohio well as the team prepares for tough matches this season.

“We will focus on getting better as a team on the court and off the court,” graduate student Lauren Park said. ”We'll practice more intensely and we will focus a lot on team culture. Our team has what it takes to do very well with this schedule, and we will make sure we are equipped to the highest level in order to do so.”

Ohio will travel to take on the 2020 NCAA Champions—Kentucky. It will also match up against Marquette and Notre Dame later this season. All three of whom were ranked at some point in the 2021 season. Ohio lost 3-0 to Marquette last season at the Red and White Invitational.

“The biggest challenge with playing the teams like Kentucky is the self-talk and inner team culture that we can win,” junior Sam Steele said. “Physically we’re going to be training hard all preseason but learning as a team we have the talent and culture to beat good teams is what will get us some big wins.”

The Bobcats will see new faces during their nonconference schedule as well. Seven of their first 11 opponents are ones that they have never faced in team history. That includes smaller opponents like Kansas City, Tennessee Tech and Loyola Maryland.

That isn’t an issue for the players, though.

“Facing teams we haven’t played before does not cross our minds much. We are out there to compete our hardest every game,” Steele said.

A player to watch is Caroline Clippard, whose spectacular freshman campaign took her to second place in team points with 414.5 points. Clippard led the Bobcats in kills with 390.

Ohio coasted through its conference schedule in 2021, though. It went 11-7 in matches within the MAC. That was enough to earn Ohio the No. 3 seed for the MAC Tournament. It took down Northern Illinois 3-0 to advance past the first round, however, Ohio lost to No. 2 Bowling Green in the second round to knock it out of the tournament.

That loss left something to be desired for the Bobcats. They look to avenge that loss during their two rematches with the Falcons. They’ll have to go through the gauntlet in nonconference games before then.

“Our ultimate goal this season is to be in the NCAA tournament, competing in postseason play,” Park said. “But in order to do that, we must focus on winning the MAC tournament, and even before that focus on winning individual games that will get us there.”

Ohio should be well suited to make a run at a MAC Championship and its difficult nonconference schedule will prepare it for conference play.

“This is a special group of people” Park said “… and we all want to make this season memorable on and off the court.”

AUTHOR: Christo Siegel
EDITOR: Ashley Beach and Molly Burchard
COPY EDITOR: Kayla Bennett
PHOTO:Akash Pamarthy