By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After dropping three of its last five matches, the Miami University volleyball team is looking to right the ship this weekend as it hits the road to take on Eastern Michigan University and Central Michigan University.
The RedHawks (10-8, 3-3 MAC) are tied with the University at Buffalo for second place in the Mid-American Conference East, while Eastern and Central Michigan are tied for fourth in the West. Last season, Miami downed EMU in five sets before falling to the Chippewas in four.
“We’re working on having aggressive attacking and being creative around bigger blockers,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “We’re working on improving our serving velocity and float. It’s great to have [sophomore middle blocker] Paige Hill healthy and hitting off of servers and giving our setters more game-like opportunities and helps them to set the tempo.”
Leading Miami with 2.89 kills per set is freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek. Redshirt junior middle blocker Jenny Ingle and Hill are in the top three in the MAC with .390 and .336 hitting percentages, respectively. Senior setter Meg Riley and sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas have helped facilitate the offense with their respective assists per set of 5.66 and 5.99 while Brakauskas is fifth in the MAC with 21 service aces.
Hill and freshman libero Maeve McDonald are vital defensively for the ’Hawks. Hill is sixth in the MAC with one block per set while McDonald has registered 4.34 digs per set (fourth in the conference).
The Eagles (11-9, 2-4 MAC) have struggled lately as they fell in three of their last four matches. However, they are 1-0 against MAC East opponents this season with a sweep of Kent State University.
Junior outside hitter Stacey Perinar has been a big component for Eastern’s attack as she has 3.66 kills per set this season (fourth in the MAC) to go with 2.79 digs per set and 31 total blocks. Senior setter Jill Briner also has been big for the offense with her .322 hitting percentage (fifth in the MAC) and 8.87 assists per set (seventh in the MAC).
Defensively, junior libero Corynne Smith has been stout, recording 4.51 digs per set (third in the MAC), but the team has been outblocked 2.09-1.95 per set this season.
Central Michigan (7-11, 2-4 MAC) has lost four of its last five matches including a four-set loss to Ohio University, the only MAC East team it has faced so far.
Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn McIntyre leads the team with 3.09 kills per set while freshman libero Kylie Copple is sixth in the conference with 9.55 assists per set. However, the team has struggled with its serving as it has 80 service aces on the season, compared to 143 service errors.
Junior middle blocker Angelique White and junior libero Kristen Reenders have been key to the Chippewa defense as White leads the MAC with 1.22 blocks per set and Reenders is second in the conference with 4.73 digs per set.
CMU hosts Bowling Green State University prior to Miami’s arrival in Mount Pleasant Saturday.
“This week, we’re learning how hard we need to hit while making smart shots and swinging harder,” sophomore outside hitter Maris Below said. “I’ve never been to the Michigans and they’re tough competition, so we’re looking forward to getting some revenge.”
The RedHawks take on the Eagles 7 p.m. Friday and face the Chips 7:30 p.m. Saturday.