By Christopher Jones, For The Miami Student
Miami continues inter-conference play as it takes on State University of New York-Buffalo and University of Akron this weekend at Millett. With last weekend’s loss to Ohio still fresh in the RedHawks’ minds, they look to bounce back and improve upon their 1-1 conference record.
“The MAC is always a dog fight,” said assistant coach Jesse Ortiz. “But, we still walked away feeling like we could have very much done some things better and won that match. We hold ourselves to a very high standard. Our mindset is that we work to win.”
This winning mindset is one of the reasons why Miami is 23-9 and 38-14 overall against Buffalo and Akron respectively.
However, this year Buffalo has some added firepower in its new head coach, Blair Lipsitz. A four-time National Champion and two-time First-Team All American, Lipsitz brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience to a program that has struggled in recent years to get wins. In addition to Lipsitz, Buffalo will also rely on dual threat senior outside hitter Megan Lipski who leads the team with 145 kills and also 130 digs.
Last year, the RedHawks faced these two squads and came out with a pair of 3-1 victories. This year, the ’Hawks enter these matchups with a 9-6 record, thanks in part to their spark on offense, junior middle/outside hitter Paige Hill.
Hill leads the team with 149 kills and will undoubtedly add to that number this weekend. Despite her individual achievements and her team’s winning record, Hill said she knows that there is still work to be done.
“The loss on Saturday fueled our energy which will hopefully show on the court this weekend,” Hill said. “It made us work harder on the things that we missed including communicating with each other and just becoming more consistent.”
Hill and the rest of the RedHawks face an Akron team that has lost five of its six matches, including a 3-1 loss to Buffalo. Although Miami has a better record than Buffalo (2-12) and Akron (7-8), both teams are very athletic and offer unique challenges. Ortiz said his team knows what needs to be accomplished to this weekend and also understand that it starts with them.
“Our biggest competition is ourselves,” Ortiz said. “Because in the MAC we see the same hitters and personnel more often we are a little more familiar so the challenges are different than other competitions. The key is can we play at a high level and impose our will on them and win doing the things that we want to do.”
The RedHawks’ kick off action 7 p.m. against Buffalo Oct. 2 at Millet and round out the weekend against Akron at 5 p.m., Oct. 3. The matchup against Buffalo will also be broadcast on ESPN3.