By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After stumbling this past weekend, the Miami University volleyball looks to build some momentum into the Mid-American Conference season as it takes on Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Ohio State University in the Miami Invitational. It is the first set of matches inside the newly renovated Millett Hall for the RedHawks (5-4).
"They're all different types of teams," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "IUPUI is a NCAA Tournament-tested team, and they have good ball control and are quick. Alabama-Birmingham and Ohio State are bigger teams with different styles. We need to keep gaining confidence and be able to make adjustments and be more flexible and strategic to get the best of our opponents. We need to serve and pass well consistently and getting good first contact, which means everything to winning a rally. It will be a great team effort, with all the classes contributing and giving us a mix of talent and teamwork to help defend our home court."
IUPUI (4-7) is struggling in non-conference play as four of its losses came in sweeps. Junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Hickey has been a contributor on both offense and defense, leading the team with 122 kills and 0.41 blocks per set to go with 115 digs. The setter tandem of sophomore Alexis Mapes and freshman Ashley Hacker have accounted for 412 out of the team's 470 assists.
UAB (3-7) has lost five decisions in sweeps and just snapped a six-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over Jacksonville State. The lone bright spot for the Blazers this season has been sophomore setter Amber Treace with her 7.41 assists per set.
Ohio State (6-3) has been on a roll as of late, winning six of its last seven after starting the season 0-2. Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe leads the team with 3.27 kills per set and 1.62 blocks per set while senior setter Taylor Sherwin has registered 7.46 assists per set on the season.
Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek leads Miami with 2.61 kills per set. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill leads with 3.04 points per set as she has tallied 2.43 kills per set and 28 total blocks. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has been on a tear as well with 2.37 kills per set, 5.80 assists per set and 2.71 digs per set this season. Freshman libero Maeve McDonald has been a quality contributor with 4.06 digs per set.
"We're working on coming together, playing through hard situations, and fixing our early errors," said freshman outside hitter Katie Tomasic. "We're really excited to finally play at home. We haven't had a ton of practice in the main gym since they've renovated it, so it's good to finally be playing and warming up in front of a crowd."
The Red and White tangle with IUPUI 7 p.m. Friday and take on UAB and Ohio State Saturday at noon and 7 p.m. respectively.