By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
In the midst of its longest Mid-American Conference winning streak since the 2009 season, the Miami University volleyball team is looking to avenge a 3-0 loss at the University at Buffalo earlier this season while also hosting the University of Akron. Miami defeated the Zips in four sets early this season.
The RedHawks (14-8, 7-3 MAC) are in third place in the MAC and have the second-longest active winning streak in the conference with five wins. The Bulls (14-10, 4-6 MAC) and the Zips (8-17, 2-8 MAC) are in third and fifth place in the East Division respectively.
"We've been going all-out in practice this week," redshirt junior middle blocker Jenny Ingle said. "We have to be ready for anything and we're going to attack them hard. It'll be a hard fight against Buffalo, but we think we have what it takes and we look forward to building on our momentum."
Miami's winning streak has been helped by two of the top five hitters in the MAC. Ingle and sophomore blocker Paige Hill have hitting percentages of .406 (1st) and .352 (4th), respectively. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has continued to be productive, earning MAC East Offensive Player of the Week honors after posting a triple-double against the University of Toledo and accounted for nine points in the sweep against Ball State University.
Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek leads the team with 2.72 kills per set, while sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas has 5.95 assists per set in MAC play this season.
"We're getting to the point in the season where we're playing teams for a second time and sometimes they'll have changed personnel depending on who's hot," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "We're emphasizing our blocking strategies, how the defense aligns to blocks, as well as serving and passing. We'll be facing some tough servers, but we've generally done a good job passing off the servers. Our talent level increased as our confidence increased, so we're looking to continue that this weekend."
In the match against Buffalo earlier this year, the 'Hawks struggled mightily offensively as they only hit .107 for the match and were outblocked 13-5. Rusek led the team with 11 kills while Ingle and senior outside hitter Sarah Chaney posted hitting percentages of .500 and .455, respectively.
Junior outside hitter Tahleia Bishop went off for the Bulls as she tallied 18 kills and 14 digs on the night, while junior setter Marissa Prinzbach recorded 27 assists, seven digs and six block assists.
"Buffalo has a great outside hitter," assistant coach Jesse Ortiz said. "We weren't very successful when we last played them, but we've grown since then and we can do better."
Rusek had a big night with 17 kills and seven digs against Akron in the 'Hawks MAC opener this season, while junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig barely missed a double-double as she had nine kills and 11 digs. Riley recorded five kills, 24 assists and seven digs.
Three Zips posted double-digit kills, including senior middle blocker Mary Delich with 11, but the team was unable to do much on offense as it hit .153 for the match.
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"Akron's been productive despite their record," Ortiz said. "They're a feisty team, and they have a great middle."
The RedHawks host Buffalo 7 p.m. Friday and take on Akron 7 p.m. Saturday.