By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After seeing its 10-match winning streak snapped at Ohio University Saturday, the Miami University volleyball team is ready to get back in the saddle again for the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The RedHawks face the winner of the match between Eastern Michigan University and Kent State University.
The RedHawks (19-9, 12-4 MAC) are looking to win its first tournament match since the 2010 season and its first tournament title since 2007.
“This week, we’re working on passing under pressure and serving tough balls to get other teams out of system,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “We’re just working on our game, working on our strengths and working on defending the slide attack to the right side, which Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Northern are good at. We have to improve at playing out of system balls; 95 percent of the match against Ohio was us working with broken plays. We’ve seen Ohio at their best and we look forward to meeting them in the finals and giving them a much better match, but we’re not looking past the quarters or the semis.”
Four RedHawks were named All-MAC selections. Senior/outside hitter Meg Riley and sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill were named First-Team All-MAC. Redshirt junior middle hitter Jenny Ingle was named Second-Team All-MAC and freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek was named to the All-Freshman team.
Led by Riley, who is the only player in program history with both 2,000 assists and 1,000 kills, Miami has an offense that has shown flashes of brilliance. Riley has registered at least a double-double in seven of her last nine matches, including three triple-doubles. Hill has been valuable by tallying nine or more kills in eight of the last 10 matches.
Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas had an impressive run of her own, going seven straight matches with 20 or more assists, including two matches where she recorded over 30 assists. Junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig is cranking it up at the right time as she put down 25 kills over the past two matches.
Defensively for the ’Hawks, freshman libero Maeve McDonald has been vital down the stretch as she has posted 15 or more digs six times in a seven game span. Sophomore outside hitter Maris Below has also been a critical part of the back row as she has 2.26 digs per set in MAC play this season.
Earlier this season, the Red and White swept Eastern Michigan on the road and Kent State at home, although the Flashes were able to take Miami to five sets in their home arena on Friday night.
“We’ve been working hard to take care of the details and to get better at the little things,” Hill said. “This weekend, we have to serve aggressive and be aggressive at the net with our blocking and swinging, along with communicating well and getting our positioning on defense. We’re looking to do a lot of good things and play our best so that we’re still
playing on Monday.”
The RedHawks face the winner of the contest between Eastern Michigan and Kent State 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Athens, Ohio. The winner of that matchup will face Northern Illinois University 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the semifinals. The winner of that match advances to the finals 7:30 p.m. Monday.