The Miami University volleyball team has a road trip this weekend as it faces Mid-American Conference (MAC) West Division opponents, the University of Toledo and Ball State University. The RedHawks (10-10, 2-6 MAC) are 1-2 against the MAC West this season.
Toledo (12-10, 5-3 MAC) is on a bit of a roll in conference play as it has won five of its last seven matches, is 4-0 at home, and is currently tied for second in the MAC West. The Rockets are led by senior outside hitter Lauren Rafdal and senior middle hitter Dakota Harkins as they have recorded 3.93 kills per set (second in the MAC) and a .328 hitting percentage (eighth in the MAC) respectively.
Senior setter Adria Pryor facilitates the offense with her 10.42 assists per set, which is third in the conference.
“[Toledo] has been doing good things and beat teams that no one expected them to,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “They have nice outside hitters and an effective middle. It’s also not easy playing Toledo at their place.”
Ball State (19-4, 7-1 MAC) sits at the top of the MAC West after winning 13 of its last 14 matches. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alex Fuelling leads the charge for the Cardinals with 3.75 kills per set, which is third in the MAC.
The tandem of senior outside hitter Kylee Baker and senior setter Jacqui Seidel have accounted for 43 service aces on the season and senior libero Catie Fredrich tallies 4.55 digs per set (seventh in the conference).
“Ball State has been leading the West a good amount of the season,” Condit said. “They hit the ball well and have good ball control… They’ve got a good libero and their setters spread the offense around very well… Both matches will be challenging for us.”
Miami has struggled to generate offense, as it has a .151 hitting percentage in its six conference losses this season, but it has reason for optimism heading into the weekend. Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Jenny Ingle leads the MAC with a .380 hitting percentage and freshman middle hitter Paige Hill is third in the conference with 1.33 blocks per set. Freshman setter Krista Brakauskas leads the team with 6.24 assists per set and senior libero Madison Hardy was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week with her 61 dig performance over the weekend.
“We need to be able to play back-to-back matches stronger,” Condit said. “Our passing and serving needs to get consistent and our hitters need to take care of the ball… I’m proud of Hardy for earning MAC Player of the Week.”
The ‘Hawks are tenth in the MAC in kills and assists, but are third with 15.74 digs per set and fourth with 2.44 blocks per set.
“We need to go back to where we were in the beginning of the season,” junior outside hitter Chelsea Visk said. “We need consistent and confident play. We’re working on being an aggressive and smart team. We need to turn our season around and start our upward climb because these upcoming matches are important… Last weekend, we learned how hard we need to work to be a consistent, aggressive team. We need to execute and get past the learning phase and play as a team.”
The RedHawks face Toledo 7 p.m. Friday and will take on Ball State 7 p.m. Saturday.