By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
After a victorious 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-8) effort at home against the University of Toledo Thursday night, the Miami University volleyball team returns Friday to Millett Hall as it hosts Ball State University. The RedHawks are trying to stay in the hunt for a Mid-American Conference Tournament berth as they face their fourth straight MAC West opponent.
After dropping three of their first five conference matches, Miami has rebounded with three consecutive sweeps of Kent State University, Eastern Michigan University and Central Michigan University.
A contributor to its recent run of success has been redshirt junior middle blocker Jenny Ingle. Ingle has a MAC-leading .401 hitting percentage to go with 2.43 kills per set and 45 total blocks. Ingle was named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week after recording 19 kills and two blocks against the Chippewas and the Eagles last weekend.
Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has been doing it all for the 'Hawks, as she has recorded 2.16 kills per set, 5.74 assists per set, 2.75 digs per set, 42 total blocks and 15 service aces.
"We're working on keeping our defense up this week and getting our offense flowing and having a winning spirit," Riley said. "We're trying to be more effective on offense. We've been doing a good job with our blocks and our defense but we need to get our hitters going."
Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill has been doing work at both ends as well, with a team-leading 76 total blocks and 2.16 kills per set. Defensively, sophomore outside hitter Maris Below and freshman libero Maeve McDonald have made quite the tandem in the backcourt. Below has accounted for 2.31 digs per set, while McDonald is fourth in the MAC with 4.29 digs per set.
The RedHawks have been a strong defensive team this season, as they lead the conference with 16.64 digs and 1.99 blocks per set. They have also performed at a high level on offense, ranking in the top four in the MAC in kills, assists and hitting percentage.
Ball State (12-9, 6-2 MAC) is in second place in the MAC West after sustaining losses to Northern Illinois University and Ohio University earlier in the season. Senior middle blocker Hayley Benson has been an offensive force for the Cardinals, as she is second in the league with a .368 hitting percentage and has a team-leading 2.74 kills per set. Junior setter Jenna Spadafora has facilitated the offense with 10.06 assists per set, good for fifth in the MAC.
"Ball State is still in the thick of it even though they lost a few matches," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "They have a high intensity on defense, but we need to focus on what we need to do. We're working on defense to make adjustments to different hitters and just strategizing for them."
The RedHawks host Ball State 7 p.m. Friday in Millett Hall.