Kyle Steiner, The Miami Student
After losing its first game in over two months, the Miami University volleyball team looks to rebound this weekend as it ends the regular season against two Mid-American Conference opponents.
While disappointed that its streak finally came to an end, the team believes that there are some silver linings to the loss.
“It might alleviate a little pressure that we’re not undefeated or in the middle of the streak at this point,” head coach Carolyn Condit said.
The RedHawks (21-5 overall, 13-1 MAC) still control their own destiny in attaining the number one seed in the MAC tournament, as a weekend sweep will secure their spot atop the conference standings.
Even if the squad were to drop both games, it could still drop no lower than the number two seed. Both the number one and two seeds are granted a double bye that places them directly in the tournament semifinal.
Despite this luxury, the ’Hawks are still determined to get back on track and finish the season strong.
“We are definitely hungry for a win after our loss to Kent State,” junior right side hitter Olivia Rusek said. “Our mentality in practice is to keep getting better every day so we can channel our anger and use it to our advantage.”
MU gets its first chance at starting another run 7 p.m. Friday night against the University of Akron.
The Zips enter the weekend 8-18 overall and 3-11 in the MAC. Miami has not lost to the Akron since the 2012-13 season.
Akron’s back row is led by senior Brenna Mack. The veteran libero leads the team with 382 digs on the season. The Zips also boast one of the conference’s best setters, as senior standout Karley Kusan is averaging 9.82 assists per set on the year.
MU then plays at home again 5 p.m. Saturday night against the University of Buffalo, whom it beat in straight sets October 7. The Bulls (4-23, 3-11) currently have the lowest overall winning percentage of any MAC team.
However, UB does boast one of the conference’s premier players, junior middle hitter Cassio Shado. She leads the league with a .402 attacking percentage, having made only 55 errors on the season.
The ’Hawks enter the weekend with junior libero Maeve McDonald, the reigning MAC East Defensive Player of the Week, on their side. She recorded 59 digs (7.38 per set) over the weekend, including a career-high 36 against Kent State University.
Saturday night, seniors Krista Brakauskas (setter), Maris Below (outside hitter) and Paige Hill (middle hitter) will all suit up in MU uniforms at home for the final time. The three standouts will be honored for their outstanding careers prior to the match.
“They are such a great group of athletes and competitors,” Condit said. “It has been a pleasure coaching these three young women.”
Miami has remained the conference’s consensus top team since the preseason coaches’ poll. The RedHawks have held to that expectation all season long, dropping only one conference game and setting a new school win streak record. The Red and White now look to put the final touches on its successful season this weekend.