After grabbing a straight set win against Bryant this morning, the Ducks (2-1) dropped their first game of the season against the Ohio Bobcats (3-0) in the same fashion. The Ducks did have to wait two games before playing the Bobcats, but judging by their performance, it looked to be a little more than just a layover issue.
In the first set, both teams were dead even as they continued to trade leads every other point. But following an Ariana Williams service error late in the set, the Ducks dropped three straight points to give up the first set to the Bobcats 25-21. This would be a reoccurring theme for the Ducks however as they continued to struggle closing out their sets down the stretch.
The second set was in essence a carbon copy of the first as the Ducks trailed the Bobcats 21-20 late in the set. And just like the previous set, the Bobcats managed to edge out the Ducks by winning three-out-of-the-last-four points to win the second set 25-22.
With a commanding two set lead heading into the third, the Bobcats took full control and continued to pile on kill-after-kill as they eventually went on to hand the Ducks their first loss of the season.
Leading the Ducks today were Williams and Martenne Bettendorf. Both players finished with 10 kills and helped the Ducks keep a close distance with the Bobcats. Lauren Plum on the other hand finished with 35 assists and had a relatively quiet game this evening. While the Ducks have only played three games this season, they will have to figure out a way to build a level of consistency moving forward and that begins with cleaning up the little mistakes they made today.
For the Bobcats, it was Kelly Lamberti and Chelsea Bilger leading the way as they combined for nearly half their teams’ kills. Lamberti finished with a team high 13 kills, while Bilger added 10 of her own. In addition to their kills, both players hit over .300: Lamberti finishing at .355 and Bilger at .316.
But as both Coach Jim Moore and Williams attested to, the Bobcats are going to be one of the better teams they face all season. The Bobcats have been atop of the MAC conference for the last decade and have won seven-out-the-last-ten conference titles. After losing Alaina Bergsma, Katherine Fischer and Haley Jacobs this year, it is understandable that the Ducks struggled in their first real competition of the year.
“We didn’t execute,” Coach Jim Moore said after the loss. “We didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays and they (Ohio) played very well. We have to give it to them, they played good and we gotta make sure that we execute when we have an opportunity to execute and we didn’t do that very much.”
Also disappointed with the loss was Williams, who simply felt there were no excuses for the Ducks poor performance tonight. Although she agreed that the Ducks are still trying to build chemistry as a team, Williams understood that the Ducks simply need to win games, plain and simple.
“Obviously we have to be better,” Williams said following the loss. “It’s always hard incorporating new players. You do have to get chemistry and that will come with time. But that’s no excuse, we’ve been practicing together for about three weeks.”
On the horizon: Next on the Ducks schedule are the Portland State Vikings who will be visiting this upcoming Tuesday. Game time is set for 7 p.m. start at Matthew Knight Arena.