By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer
Looking to extend its nine-match winning streak and wrap up its regular season on a high note, the Miami University volleyball team hits the road this weekend to take on Mid-American Conference East opponents Kent State University and Ohio University.
The RedHawks (18-8, 11-3 MAC) are on their longest winning streak since the 2007 season. They won the MAC Tournament and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament that season. The 'Hawks have secured a first round bye in this year's MAC Tournament.
"This week, we've been working on our team chemistry and communication," freshman libero Maeve McDonald said. "What we've been able to do in the past few weeks is having our setters connect with our hitters and pass well. It'll be a couple hard matches for us, but we expect to do well."
Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has been on fire for Miami, as she was named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week and has recorded at least a double-double in six of her last seven matches, including triple-doubles against the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. Riley is also looking to leave her place in the Miami record books, as she is an assist away from 2,000 in her career and a handful of kills away from 1,000.
Senior outside hitter Sarah Chaney is also playing well. She has eight or more kills in four of the last five matches. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill has been great on offense, as she has nine or more kills in seven of the last eight matches. Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas has helped pace that offense with at least 20 assists in her last six matches.
Freshman libero Maeve McDonald has been huge for the backcourt of the 'Hawks, as she posted 15 or more digs in five of her last six matches.
Kent State (15-12, 7-7 MAC) has won three of its last four matches, with the loss coming in four sets to the Ohio. Leading the offensive attack for the Golden Flashes are senior outside hitter Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola and freshman setter Brittney Jakscht. Aderemi-Ibitola is seventh in the MAC with 3.11 kills per set and Jakscht is 10th in the conference with 8.83 assists per set.
Senior middle blocker Liz Reikow is tops in the MAC with 125 total blocks and freshman libero Challen has 4.32 digs per set, sixth in the conference and behind McDonald.
Ohio (21-4, 14-0 MAC) is on a winning streak of its own as it has won its last 15 matches. That includes some close calls with seven four-set decisions and a 3-2 victory over the Red and White in Oxford.
Senior outside hitter Kelly Lamberti and junior setter Abby Gilleland have been big offensively for the Bobcats as Lamberti is third in the MAC with 4.10 kills per set and Gilleland is in the top four in the conference in both hitting percentage and assists. Freshman outside hitter Jaime Kasiorek has been productive as well with 2.74 kills per set and 37 service aces, good for second MAC.
The Green and White's defense has also been stout with 2.31 total blocks per set and junior libero Meredith Ashy's MAC-leading 4.90 digs per set.
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"We're working on defending right side attacks and different tempo slide attacks so that comes down to our block and our defense," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "We're trying to clean up our setting patterns so that our offense can be sharper and more effective. We're also working on our servicing, getting good velocity and float on serves. Both teams generate good offense and play well at home, so we need to play our best on the road this weekend."
The RedHawks face Kent State 7 p.m. Friday and Ohio 7 p.m. Saturday.