After dropping a close first set, the volleyball RedHawks won three straight sets, to take the first game of the RedHawk Invitational 3-1, over the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland University.
“Once we got our confidence, our offense was generating points for us,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “We were able to outplay their out-of-system attacks.”
Senior outside hitter Stela Kukoc led the way with six of the RedHawks’ 12 kills.
Multiple blocking errors and an inability to connect on attacks plagued the Red and White, as their hitting percentage was a mere .167 to Oakland’s .300.
The second set was an entirely different match.
The RedHawk’s offense exploded to a quick 6-1 and forced Oakland to use an early timeout after kills by freshman outside hitter Gaby Harper and sophomore libero Abigail Huser.
Margaret Payne joined the barrage against the Golden Grizzlies with back-to-back blocks, extending the Miami lead 8-1. Oakland called another timeout after consecutive kills from Harper off assists from sophomore setter Morgan Seaman.
The ’Hawks led 21-8 as Harper delivered two explosive kills, electrifying Millett Hall. The set ended on a tip over the net from Kukoc to give Miami a decisive 25-11 set win.
“One thing that drove the second set was that they hate to lose,” Condit said. “They take a lot of pride in winning and they have this goal of not wanting to lose anymore matches at home.”
The start of the third set featured similar jousting as the first. Miami crept away after two Oakland attacking errors and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Wojick to extend the RedHawks’ lead to 15-9.
A Payne kill and freshman middle hitter Corinne Jemison winning a hand-to-hand battle at the net extended the lead, tallying the board at 19-10. A Harper kill gave the RedHawks a 25-17, third set win.
Miami got off to an early 6-2 lead in the fourth. The Golden Grizzlies cut into the deficit after a series of kills from outside hitters senior Aleksandra Malek and redshirt sophomore Mackenzie Schneider.
A 10-3 run in the middle of the set gave Miami a 23-14 lead. Then, a Huser kill cemented a 3-1 set win over the Golden Grizzlies.
Harper finished with a team high 11 kills, while Seaman finished with a double-double of 25 assists and 16 digs. The Red and White dominated on the service line with seven aces to Oakland’s three. The Golden Grizzlies had 22 attacking errors, while Miami only had 10.
Pleased with the win, Condit credits the players with figuring out Oakland’s attack and staying strong defensively, both with blocking and digging.
“I’m really looking for our team to stay aggressive at every aspect of the game,” Condit said. “We have talent on the bench that we haven’t given enough time to yet, so I’m really excited to see where that confidence takes them.”
The final match of the RedHawk Invitational will take place tonight at 6 p.m. at Millett Hall as the Red Flash of Saint Francis University take on the RedHawks.