LEXINGTON – The Ohio volleyball team suffered a defeat against No. 11 Kentucky (1-1) in three sets (20-25) at the Memorial Coliseum over the weekend.
In the first set, Ohio managed to keep Kentucky within close range, but the Bobcats were unable to secure a substantial lead. The match was competitive for the Wildcats until they found their rhythm. Despite seven ties, Ohio fell short with a final score of 25-20, with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Erin Lamb leading Kentucky to victory.
While Ohio initially had an advantage in the second set, it quickly turned into an alternating battle. After winning a net violation challenge called on Ohio's Rutherford, Kentucky claimed the set with a score of 25-11.Ohio continued to fight in the third set, but the momentum shifted in favor of the Wildcats, who established a 7-0 lead. Despite a late 5-1 run by Ohio, UK junior middle blocker Elise Goetzinger secured the set with a kill, ending it 25-19 in favor of the Wildcats.
Compared to Kentucky's hitting percentage of .380, Ohio struggled with a hitting percentage of .089, primarily due to 21 attacking errors.
Leading the team, Ohio senior middle blocker Caitlin O'Farrell and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Clippard both contributed seven kills. Additionally, junior libero Sam Steele led the match in digs with 16, surpassing Kentucky's leader by four.
Despite the loss, the Bobcats maintained high morale. Following the game, Ohio head coach Geoff Carlson discussed the team’s performance and the experience gained from playing against a strong opponent.
"I hope you all enjoyed the competition today. It was nice to finally play against a challenging team," Carlson said.
He said the loss against Kentucky should be seen as a learning opportunity rather than a setback, considering the challenging yet conquerable schedule the Bobcats have this season.
In the previous season, the Bobcats lost many talented players, including outside hitter Maggie Nedoma. Nedoma, in her first season with the Bobcats, was named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team and recorded double-digit kills in 22 matches.
In 2021, with Nedoma's contributions, Ohio secured a spot in the MAC tournament following a 3-1 victory over Miami in November. The Bobcats reached the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament before losing to Bowling Green in the semifinals.
Following Nedoma's departure, the team has faced challenges in filling her shoes. However, they firmly believe that their strong bond will guide them through this season.