Miami off to best start since 1999
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 01:09
The Miami University volleyball team passed some of its toughest challenges in the young season this weekend as it downed Evansville University 3-0 (25-11, 25-22, 25-18) and mustered a 3-2 (24-26, 26-28, 25-22, 25-21, 15-13) comeback victory against Northern Kentucky University. The RedHawks (5-0) are off to their best start since the 1999 season, in which they also started off 5-0 and finished third in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
Miami quickly dispatched the Purple Aces (2-4) in the first set, going on a 15-5 run that was complemented by kills from junior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley and redshirt sophomore Jenny Ingle before finishing the set 25-11.
Evansville was much more competitive in the second set, keeping the set close with an 8-12 deficit before going on a 9-6 run. The Aces would continue to keep it close until a 4-2 run by the RedHawks claimed a 25-22 victory in the second set. The second set featured a .120 hitting percentage for Miami, which was the lowest for any set and 10 of its 14 errors.
In the third set, the ’Hawks were down 0-3 prior to junior middle hitter Chelsea Visk earning a service ace to ignite a 6-0 run. Evansville held its own, however, reducing the disadvantage to 11-14. Following an 8-1 run by Miami, the Purple Aces went on a 6-2 run before committing a setting error that gave the RedHawks a 25-18 win to take the match.
Against Evansville, Riley had a near triple-double with 11 kills, 18 assists and seven digs while Ingle had a solid performance as well with 15 kills, a .667 hitting percentage, and three blocks. Junior libero Tori Clifford had one of the best nights of her college career as she recorded 24 digs, with 15 coming in the second set. The ’Hawks had a .284 team hitting percentage, compared to.098 by the Aces, and outblocked Evansville 5-3.
The first set against Northern Kentucky (2-4) was a tight knit affair, as the teams would trade points until the Norse went on a 6-2 run on their way to a 26-24 decision.
In the second set, NKU would jump out to an early 11-6 advantage before Miami went on an 8-3. After a series of back-and-forths, the RedHawks trailed 23-24 before kills by Riley and senior outside hitter Madison Dodd delayed the set loss, which eventually came 26-28.
The Red and White jumped out to an early 8-4 lead prior to a 9-5 Norse run. After trading blows, a kill by Ingle helped establish a 23-20 advantage before freshman middle hitter Maris Below clinched the 25-22 set win.
The fourth set also started with the ’Hawks establishing a lead, this time 17-10. After a Northern Kentucky rally, kills by Ingle and Below created set point at 24-20 before Below racked up another kill to send the match into the fifth set.
After starting the final set on a 3-0 run, Miami found itself down 6-8 before fighting its way to a 13-13 tie with help from a kill by Ingle and a service ace by Clifford. Ingle hammered down another kill to set up match point before the Norse drove the ball into the net, giving the match and the Invitational title to the RedHawks.
Ingle earned Invitational MVP honors after posting 21 kills, two solo blocks, and eight assisted blocks in the match against Northern Kentucky while Riley and Clifford were named to the All-Tournament team alongside Ingle. Riley recorded the ninth triple-double of her career with 15 kills, 32 assists, and 12 digs and Clifford had two service aces to go with her 22 digs. In the match against the Norse, the ’Hawks committed fewer attack errors than NKU (25-27) and outblocked them 13-11.
“We knew that Northern [Kentucky] would be a challenge since their offense runs fast,” head coach Carolyn Condit. “They pass fast and their hitters attack the seam. This weekend was about handling pressure, and we dug deep. Our conditioning and endurance, mental and physical, really paid off for us.”
Clifford discussed her play and the important takeaways from the weekend.
“[This weekend] was about playing solid defense,” Clifford said. “I tried to keep the ball alive and give us passing opportunities. This weekend will help us maintain strong focus for the following weekends to come.”
The RedHawks will travel to take on Xavier University 7 p.m. Tuesday before leaving to go to the Billiken Challenge against St. Louis University, Bradley University and Youngstown State University in St. Louis, Mo.