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’Hawks set for matchup with Western Michigan

Miami junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig prepares to spike the ball during Miami's 3-1 victory against Akron.

Photo by Connor Moriarty

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

Following Thursday night's 3-1 (25-17. 25-23, 23-25, 25-20) win against Bowling Green State University, the Miami University volleyball team packs its bags as it heads to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a Mid-American Conference collision with Western Michigan University. The RedHawks (16-8, 9-3 MAC) are in second place in the MAC and have clinched a berth in the conference tournament, while the Broncos (16-11, 7-5 MAC) are in fifth place.

"We're working on having more aggressive play on offense and defense and look to come out swinging," senior defensive specialist Tori Clifford said. "We're facing some good competition, but we expect to win. It'll be a dogfight, so we have to work on being prepared and be willing to do whatever it takes to get wins and a couple of byes in the MAC Tournament."

Miami is looking to extend a seven-match winning streak, its longest since the 2008 season. That season was the last time the RedHawks made the NCAA

Tournament. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley has been a force during the streak, as she has three double-doubles and a triple-double. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill has been on a tear as well, as she has posted double-digit kills in three of her last four games.

Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas has been rolling as well, posting 20 or more assists in five of the last seven matches. Freshman libero Maeve McDonald has been doing work on the defensive end this season, registering 15 or more digs in the last four matches.

The team as a whole has been hitting the cover off the ball, as it has hit over .200 in all seven matches and has exceeded .220 in six of those contests. The passing for the Red and White has been a strength lately, as the 'Hawks have recorded more assists than its opponents in three of its last four matches.

The Broncos have been struggling as of late, as they have lost three of their last four matches. Sophomore outside hitter Alysia Baznik has been effective on offense this season with 2.94 kills per set; good enough for eighth in the MAC. Western Michigan also boast two of the top 10 hitters in the conference with freshman middle blocker Sydney LeMay and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Ave Stout. Senior setter Lexie Pawlik leads the MAC with 11.12 assists per set.

WMU leads the conference with a .242 hitting percentage, but has struggled on the service line with 92 service aces and 127 service errors.

"We're emphasizing the nuts and bolts of volleyball, which is serving and relaxed, confident passing," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "We're also working on hitting the ball higher and taking more risks so that we can be a more dominant offense. With Western, we're looking to prove that we can take another one on the road and stay in the top three in the MAC. It'll be challenging for us."

The RedHawks square off against the Broncos 7 p.m. Saturday.