MU hits road for pair of MAC games
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 00:10
After dropping its last five matches, the Miami University volleyball team is seeking to right the ship this weekend as it makes its first road trip of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) season against East Division rivals Ohio University and Kent State University. The RedHawks (8-6, 1-1 MAC) were 0-2 and 1-1 last season against the Bobcats and Golden Flashes, respectively.
No. 20 Ohio (12-2, 2-0 MAC), picked to place second in the MAC East in the preseason with five first place votes, is coming off a MAC road stand in which it downed the University of Buffalo 3-1 and the University of Akron 3-0.
Both of its losses came in five sets against No. 24 University of North Carolina and No. 10 University of Michigan. With the win over the Bulls, the Bobcats have won 11 of its last 12 conference openers.
Preseason All-MAC East Division honoree and junior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti leads the Bobcats with her 3.26 kills per set and 2.66 digs per set on the season.
Sophomore setter Abby Gilleland, who was also named to the preseason All-MAC East Division team, contributes 10.16 assists per set.
OU is a potent offensive team that leads the MAC in hitting percentage and and is third in service aces per set. The defense is also stout, as it is second in the MAC blocks per set and fourth in opponents’ hitting percentage.
“They [OU] have active middles,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “Our middles are trying to learn how to stay with them in transition and play with awareness. We’re also working on serving tough and getting good block penetration. We have to be rethinking how good we are, because just because we lost doesn’t mean everyone had a bad game, so we’re trying to build confidence and come together as a team.”
Kent State (7-8, 1-1 MAC) is coming off of 3-1 losses to Buffalo and Youngstown State University, but has rebounded nicely from a 1-5 start. Freshman outside hitter Bianci Cifaldi and sophomore outside hitter Kelly Hutchison are key players for the Kent attack, generating a combined 5.9 kills per set, 10 service aces and 52 of the Flashes’ 109 total blocks. Senior setter Aleksandra Nowak and senior libero Hannah Herc are instrumental to Kent State’s success as well, with Nowak posting 9.85 assists per set and Herc registering 4.42 digs per set.
Miami has its work cut out for it again this weekend, but it has several players it can rely on. Senior libero Madison Hardy put up 52 digs over the weekend to take down the school all-time career digs record while only having two reception errors during the two matches. Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Jenny Ingle leads the MAC with a .406 hitting percentage and is on pace to break the single-season school record of .358. She is sixth in the conference with 1.09 blocks per set. Hardy and Ingle were honorary mentions for MAC Player of the Week.
“We’re working on our defense and our bases,” freshman setter Krista Brakauskas said. “We’re also working on hitting out of system balls and having a good block. It’s been a great week of practice and we’re finding out some of the teams’ patterns. OU is a big team and we’ll have to play our own game, stop their hitters, and stay consistent.”
The RedHawks face Ohio 7 p.m. Friday in Athens and then will travel to take on the Flashes 7 p.m. Saturday in Kent.