Photo by Phill Ardnt
By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After winning two of its first three matches in Mid-American Conference play, the Miami University volleyball team lost a 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 24-26, 25-18, 13-15) decision to a Northern Illinois University team that is unblemished in conference play. The RedHawks (9-7, 2-2 MAC) will have to regroup as they host Ohio University Friday and Kent State University Saturday.
"It was a tough one," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "They're the best team in the West and are undefeated [in MAC play] and we were close. No team dominated the match."
Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek had a great match against the Huskies (11-7, 4-0 MAC), putting down 20 kills while barely missing a double-double with eight digs. Junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig also recorded double-digit kills on the night with 10 and a .346 hitting percentage.
Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley was not far from a triple-double as she had nine kills, 25 assists and seven digs. Senior outside hitter Sarah Chaney put down seven kills on the night. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill was not far from double-digit kills as well, recording eight.
"Paige Hill did well despite getting double- and triple-teamed constantly," Condit said. "Sarah Chaney needs to keep playing the way she's playing; her and Meg Riley are what we need on the right side."
Defensively, freshman libero Maeve McDonald had arguably her best performance so far by posting 25 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Maris Below put in good work on that side of the ball as well, recording 15 digs.
"Maeve McDonald played the best she has in her short career and was amazing tonight," Condit said. "Maris Below was a quiet worker for us, hitting aggressively and giving us opportunities on offense."
After the first set was tied 14-14, the 'Hawks exploded on a 7-1 run on their way to taking the set.
The Red and White struggled to get the offense going in the second set as they were unable to rally from an early 7-2 deficit.
In a third set that featured 15 ties and three lead changes, the RedHawks fell 26-24 despite having a 24-24 tie.
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After finding themselves down 7-3 in the fourth, the 'Hawks managed to make an impressive rally to force a fifth set as the team outhit the Huskies .268-.093.
After the fifth set was tied at 7-7, Miami surrendered a 5-1 run to Northern Illinois as the team hit .185 to close the match, while the Huskies hit .333.
"It was our first five set match of the season, so I thought we played well," Chaney said. "We just have to prevent those big runs and finish the match. Communication is definitely something we can improve on and just having everybody doing their role to the best of their ability."