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MU falls to IU; waltzes over Miss. St.

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

The Miami University volleyball team came away from another weekend with a winning record.

The 'Hawks were defeated 3-1 (26-28, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25) by Indiana University before reeling off 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-19) and 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-19) wins over Mississippi State University and Southeast Missouri State University in the Indiana Invitational.

The RedHawks (4-2) experienced some individual success over the weekend as both redshirt junior middle blocker Jenny Ingle and freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek made the All-Tournament team.

Rusek led the charge on offense against Indiana with 12 kills, six of which came in the first set, while senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley and sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas accounted for 35 of the 38 assists in the match. The Hoosiers functioned better as an offense overall on the night with 23 more kills and 20 more assists than the 'Hawks, which had obstacles in addition to their opponents they had to contend with.

"Against Indiana, we practiced at an early time slot and didn't start our match until 7:45 because the first match ran late," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "Then the electric went out, causing moisture on the floor because it was so humid. Players were sliding around a lot in the match. [Sophomore outside hitter] Maris Below described it best, it was like penguins on ice, so it was tough. I'm proud of how hard we fought; it was a good matchup. They did a good job double-teaming on [sophomore middle blocker] Paige Hill."

Miami dug itself into a 14-6 hole in the first set, but found a way to tie the score up 24-24 thanks to the 11 errors by the Hoosiers. However, the host team capped off the set with a service ace. The second set was also close with eight ties between the two teams with the Red and White taking advantage of attack errors with a set-winning kill from Rusek.

After being tied 4-4 in the third set, it was all Indiana as it was able to outhit the traveling squad .405 to .241. The fourth set was much closer with four ties, but IU put down five more kills and service aces than the RedHawks in the set on its way to a match victory.

Again leading the team in kills against Mississippi State was Rusek, who had 18 to go with her nine digs. Also joining her in the double-digit kill club were junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig with 14 and Ingle with 13. They were part of an offense that recorded a .358 hitting percentage in the match, while 62 of the 64 assists came from Riley and Brakauskas.

"Our outside hitters definitely stepped up on Saturday," Condit said. "Reiswig and Rusek were hitting smarter and harder and gave us good options when they were double-teaming Jenny and Paige."

The power went out during the match, but the team found a way to keep the competitive juices flowing with a dance-off in the dark against the Bulldogs.

"The power went out during the Mississippi State match but the music remained on," Condit said. "So the teams had a dance-off and it was absolutely hysterical. We managed to keep ourselves warm until the power came back on."

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Below also commented on the shenanigans.

"It was 9-12, then all of a sudden the power went out," she said. "The scoreboard was still on, the music was still on, people had no idea what was going on. The coaches were worried about us getting cold with the power out, so we put on our sweats and we had a dance-off against Mississippi State. It was funny and awesome, even though they won. We're not the best dancers."

After being tied with Mississippi State 4-4 in the first set, Miami dug itself into a 14-9 hole that it could not overcome as the drought featured four service errors. In a second set that had 12 ties, the Red and White finished off the set on a 6-2 run with kills from Rusek, Reiswig and Hill. Rusek led all players with five kills in the set.

The third set was just as close as the previous with eight ties and the 'Hawks again closed out the set with kills by Hill and Reiswig to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The RedHawks were in control for much of the fourth set as the Bulldogs were only able to get one-point leads on two occasions. Hill, Reiswig and Ingle all registered five kills each in the set.

"Meg Riley and Krista Brakauskas did a nice job of running an effective offense on Saturday. Krista also had a couple good serving streaks on Saturday as well," said Condit. "[Freshman libero] Maeve McDonald also did a nice job in her three starts this weekend. [Freshman outside hitter] Courtney Bemis generated some key offense while sharing the position with [senior outside hitter] Sarah Chaney. Below did a great job and was a stabilizer on the court for us. This weekend, we've shown that we can adapt and overcome challenges and stay positive."

Riley was a dig away from recording a triple-double against Southeast Missouri State as she had 10 kills, 19 assists and nine digs. Brakauskas was not far from a double-double herself with 22 assists, seven digs and six service aces. Hill allocated 11 kills in the match as the team registered 13 more kills and 14 more assists than its opponent.

Despite starting the opening set on a 6-0 run, Miami found itself tied at 20-20 before capping off the set with a 5-3 run. The second set was close as well with 13 ties before a service ace by Hill and a kill from Rusek claimed the set for the 'Hawks.

The Red and White started fast in the third set with an early 5-1 lead that SEMO could not come back from as the netters took the set and the match in a sweep.

"It was a good weekend for us," Below said. "It was a good test for us to play Big Ten and SEC teams and we have some areas we need to improve on. On defense, we're learning some new things and they'll end up working out well and we need to stay aggressive on our serves and keeping teams out of systems."

The RedHawks continue their road trip next weekend as they take on Bradley University, North Dakota State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the CEFCU Classic.