Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
Coming off a strong showing in the Panther Invitational last weekend, the Miami University volleyball team (2-1) is looking to improve as it faces Indiana University, Mississippi State University and Southeast Missouri State University this weekend in the Indiana Invitational.
"This week, we've been working on defending our court and getting our backcourt working in unison with the block setup," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "We're also working with our seven freshman and getting our terminology down. We're working on our serving velocity as well. We were outserved and outpassed in the fourth and fifth sets against Milwaukee and we need to learn how to not get tight in pressure situations. We're working on defending the slide attack, especially one-legged attacks as Indiana does them."
The Hoosiers (3-0) started off their season on a roll as they claimed the UConn Classic title with wins over Central Connecticut State University, the University of New Hampshire and the University of Connecticut. Senior outside hitter Morgan Leach was named tournament MVP for recording 39 kills over the weekend while sophomore setter Megan Tallman registered three double-doubles to start the season. Junior middle blocker Awele Nwaeze also accounted for 21 blocks in the tournament.
Mississippi State (1-3) is struggling so far this season as it has been swept in two of its three losses. Freshman libero Payton Harris and junior setter Katlyn Mataya have been bright spots for the Bulldogs as Harris has amassed 100 digs so far this season and Mataya leads the team with 4.50 assists per set. The offense has not been a bright spot as it has a .114 hitting percentage.
Southeast Missouri State (1-3) has also stumbled a bit by dropping its last three matches. Senior outside hitter Andrea Baylin has been a force on both offense and defense as she is the team leader in kills with 53 and digs with 61. Junior middle blocker Taylor Masterson has come up big as well with her 13 total blocks. The 32 return errors made by the team dwarfs the 19 committed by its opponents and looks to be an area of concern.
Miami had some key performances over the weekend that it would like to see continue into Friday. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has tallied three double-doubles this season. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill is tops on the team with 34 kills and a .435 hitting percentage and earned MAC East Player of the Week honors for her efforts. The tandem of senior Tori Clifford and freshman Maeve McDonald have accounted for 5.75 digs per set this season and freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek has been a crucial contributor with 24 kills, good enough for third on the team.
"We're adjusting to the hitting tempo," freshman outside hitter Katie Tomasic. "We're learning to put balls away and split the block. Getting confidence is also big for the team going forward as we look to upset Indiana."
Freshman middle blocker Meredith Stutz discussed the defense.
"We're learning new defenses and getting to be more well oiled as we go on," Stutz said. "The communication has been good for us. Personally, I've been learning to play both in the middle and the right side so it's all about getting ready to go for this weekend."
The RedHawks take on Indiana 7 p.m. Friday in Bloomington, Indiana and square off against Mississippi State and Southeast Missouri State at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, respectively.