Cheers and jeers rang throughout Millett Hall as the Miami volleyball faithful sat impatiently Friday, watching a nail-biting RedHawks’ victory against Ohio University, before witnessing a dominant 3-0 sweep of Kent State.
Friday’s Battle of the Bricks matchup lived up to its name as the RedHawks and the Bobcats (8-11, 3-3 Mid-American) traded sets in a thrilling 3-2 Miami victory (25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 18-25, 15-9).
Miami freshman outside hitter Gaby Harper led the team with a season-high 22 kills and added 14 digs. Sophomore setter Morgan Seaman and freshman setter Louise Comerford also reached season highs with 32 and 22 assists, respectively.
For OU, sophomore setter Vera Giacomazzi had a game-high 46 assists.
“At practice this week, we really worked on connections, mainly working with our setters,” Harper said. “They put the ball up there for me which really helped get the job done.”
The RedHawks never trailed until early in the second set. Both sides traded leads, only gaining a one- or two-point advantage over the other. A 7-1 run by the Bobcats midway through the set broke the trend. A vicious spike to the heart of the Miami defense by sophomore middle blocker Tia Jimerson gave Ohio its first set and tied the match at 1-1.
Miami dropped five straight points to start the fourth set 6-1 in favor of OU. Fans in Millett struggled with the officials’ calls the entire night, and the arena erupted after the RedHawks were called for a double-hit twice in three points.
Despite a 12-4 Bobcat lead, Miami’s lineup played the rest of the set locked in and energized.
Back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Wojick electrified the bench and brought the RedHawks within five. Freshman outside hitter Sophie Riemersma’s block inched the RedHawks closer at 21-17, but attacking and service errors led to an eventual 25-18 set victory for Ohio.
In the fifth set, the Bobcats got out to an early 4-1 lead on a series of attacking errors by Miami.
Battling back, the RedHawks tied the set at seven. OU’s redshirt senior outside hitter Jaime Kosiorek’s kill hit the net and gave Miami a 8-7 lead going into the halfway point.
Out of the break, a pair of Harper kills and one by senior outside hitter Stela Kukoc gave Miami a 12-7 lead. Kosiorek couldn’t contain blocks by Wojick and senior middle hitter Courtney Simons, and a kill by Kukoc handed the match to the Red and White.
With contributions from many different players on the roster, head coach Carolyn Condit feeds the hot hand.
“I might be trying to find that go-to lineup the entire year, I’m not sure,” Condit said while chuckling. “If someone is starting to diminish a little bit in an area we really need them, sometimes it helps to get someone in the game that has that part of their game shining.”
Saturday, the roster trend continued as the RedHawks flashed by Kent State (8-12, 1-5 MAC) in a decisive 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-21, 25-21).
Miami hit .290, its best percentage in Mid-American Conference play this season. Riemersma had a match high 12 kills, and was the only person on either side of the net to reach double-digit kills.
Junior libero Lindsay Dauch and Kukoc contributed 10 digs each.
With the weekend sweep, the RedHawks sit tied atop the MAC standings with a record of 5-1 (13-5 overall record).
“We’re definitely the underdogs,” Harper said. “We just use that energy and identity that [MAC opponents] gave us. We want to come out and show them that we may be young, but we can take over the conference.”
The RedHawks head to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan University on Friday and then to Mount Pleasant to play the Chippewas of Central Michigan University on Saturday.
Friday’s match-up with the Eagles begins at 7 p.m. and can be found on ESPN+.