By: Donnie Harmon
Ball State Sports Link
After splitting a pair of matches on the road against Kent State last weekend, the Ball State women’s volleyball team returns home to face the Ohio Bobcats on Thursday and Friday. Both games scheduled for a 6:30 start inside Worthen Arena.
While Ball State (11-3, 1-1 MAC) has found success on the year so far, it has been tough sledding for Ohio coming off of a 12-8 record a season ago. After losing most of its starting lineup after last season, Ohio has struggled to replace that production, as they sit at 1-12 on the year. After earning their first victory of the year in a sweep against Toledo last Friday, Ohio will look to pull off the upset against Ball State.
A Familiar Face
The biggest storyline for Ohio this season has been the return of head coach Geoff Carlston. After spending 12 years at the helm of the Ohio State program, he returned to Athens in the offseason for his second stint with Ohio.
In his previous tenure with the program from 2003-2007, Carlston’s Bobcats dominated the MAC, winning the conference championship all 5 seasons, and posting an eye-catching in-conference record of 78-2, which included a 64 game win streak against conference foes.
In the last 10 matchups between these two teams, Ball State has a 6-4 advantage head to head, as well as an 8-5 advantage since 2010.
However, Ohio swept Ball State last year, after the Cardinals won the previous 5 matchups. While Ball State has had the advantage in recent memory, Ohio’s head coach Carlston knows how to have success against MAC competition. Both teams sit at 1-1 in conference play currently.
Players to Watch
For Ball State, two players to watch for Ball State are middle blockers Marie Plitt, a junior, and Lauren Gilliland, a sophomore. The two have been dominant presences on defense, as Gilliland leads Ball State with 49 blocks, while Plitt is second with 39.
The two standouts have also been models of efficiency on the offensive end, as Plitt is averaging 2.22 kills per set with a team best .358 hitting percentage, good for 2nd best in the MAC. Gilliland is averaging 1.75 kills per set on a .332 clip.
A player to watch for Ohio is Maggie Nedoma as she leads the team in kills, kills per set, and aces. The fifth-year opposite hitter, who came back to, “Finish on her terms and finish strong,” according to head coach Carlston.
Nedoma is coming off of a 13 kill and 3 block performance against Toledo in which she posted a staggering .632 hitting percentage.
Another Bobcat to keep an eye on is Caitlin O’Farrell. The junior middle blocker, who stands at an imposing 6’4, leads the team in blocks, blocks per set, and hitting percentage.
Where and When to Listen
Both games are scheduled for 6:30 this Thursday and Friday. Listen in on the @bsusportslink Twitter and Facebook pages for the Sports Link Digital Radio broadcast, with Lexi Eblen and Donnie Harmon on the call Thursday, while Nathan Ganger and Tristan Fluhr will bring you the action on Friday.