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Netters split opening MAC weekend

Photo by Josh Zak

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

After opening Mid-American Conference play with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-23) victory over the University of Akron, the Miami University volleyball team (8-6, 1-1 MAC) was swept 3-0 (18-25, 24-26, 20-25) by the University at Buffalo.

"It was an unusual match," head coach Carolyn Condit said of the contest against the Bulls. "We've never self-destructed at different points in a match like we did tonight. The team needed to pick up its game. We're a lot better than a .107 hitting percentage. We have to regroup and rally."

Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek led all scorers against the Zips with 17 kills. Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas recorded a double-double with 23 assists and 14 digs on the night. Also contributing on offense was redshirt junior middle blocker Jenny Ingle and junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig, who both recorded nine kills.

The first set belonged to the home team as it outhit and outblocked the 'Hawks. The next two sets belonged to the road team as it hit at .320 in those sets, while the Zips averaged a .126 hitting percentage in the sets. The RedHawk defense prevailed in the fourth set as it tallied nine more digs and one more block than Akron, including six digs by Brakauskas.

Against Buffalo, Rusek accounted for another 11 kills and Ingle had eight as the offense struggled mightily on its way to a .107 hitting percentage. Brakauskas and senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley also had double-doubles with 17 assists and 12 digs and 14 assists and 10 digs, respectively. The defense also had its problems as the Bulls recorded eight more total blocks on the night.

"Buffalo has a lot of experience and showed it with 13 blocks and 50 digs," Condit said. "Our offense was out of sync and we might've been trying too hard. [Senior outside hitter] Sarah Chaney did a nice job of protecting the ball and set up a good block for us. We need our younger players to step up."

In the first set, Miami hit .027, was outdug 20-18 and outblocked 5-3 as it only mustered 18 points. The offense improved its output in the second set with 16 kills, but still had problems on defense as it had only one total block compared to Buffalo's four. The 'Hawks regressed in the third set as they hit .091, had three service errors and no service aces.

"[Against Akron] we played well but tonight there was just a misconnection," Rusek said after the Akron match. "We could play a lot better. We'll be looking forward to when we play Buffalo at home. We need to working better covering of our hitters and working together, not individually, and develop a chemistry with this team."

The RedHawks continue their road trip Thursday as they take on Bowling Green State University at 7 p.m. before returning home for a 7 p.m. Saturday night showdown with Northern Illinois University.

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