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Red and White face NIU

MU defeated Bowling Green 3-1 Thursday night

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

After defeating Bowling Green State University 3-1 on the road Thursday, the Miami University volleyball team returns to Oxford to take on Northern Illinois University Saturday.

After starting off the season 4-2, the RedHawks have since struggled to find consistency as they have dropped four of its last eight matches. The team has been outperformed at the service line and on defense as it has only 54 service aces compared to 101 service errors and has committed 10 more return errors than its opponents. However, the team does lead the MAC with 16.87 digs per set while being second in assists with 12.72.

"We're working on our consistency," assistant coach Chuck Rey said. "We're a strong team and we need to be more consistent so that we can be better. We need to have an understanding of MAC play and playing on the road. We're working on the basics of passing and serving and improving our connections with each other … NIU is a strong team with a lot of experience."

Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek leads the 'Hawks with 2.88 kills per set. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has been highly productive this season with 2.30 kills per set, 5.92 assists per set, 2.81 digs per set and 29 blocks this season. Also putting down balls for the offense is junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig with her 2.08 kills per set.

Miami's middle blocker tandem of redshirt junior Jenny Ingle and sophomore Paige Hill have been contributing to both offense and defense as they have accounted for 232 of the team's 719 kills and have tallied 29 and 51 blocks, respectively. Ingle and Hill hold the first and second spots in the MAC with hitting percentages of .415 and .341 respectively.

Freshman libero Maeve McDonald has given good production so far this season, ranking fifth in the Mid-American Conference with 4.15 digs per set.

"We're working on our courage and our confidence and improving our flow," McDonald said. "We're playing some pretty good teams this week so we have to focus on ourselves and what we need to do. Personally, I'm working on having more consistent passing to our setters and making it easy to attack."

Northern Illinois is coming off a Thursday match as it lost/beat Western Michigan University in a MAC West clash. The Huskies had their ups and downs during the non-conference portion of their schedule, but seem to be clicking as they swept the University of Toledo and Ball State University in their opening MAC weekend. NIU has been a strong serving team this season, as it has recorded 2.0 service aces per set and has only committed .9 service reception errors per set.

Senior outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy leads the team and is third in the conference with 3.84 kills per set, while sophomore outside hitter Mary Grace Kelly has put down 2.51 kills per set this season. Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Jenna Radtke leads with 42 blocks and freshman libero Anna Brereton has 4.02 digs per set.

The RedHawks take on the Huskies 7 p.m. Friday in Millett.