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‘Hawks win ninth straight, earn first round bye

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

The Miami University volleyball team earned its ninth straight win Saturday as it defeated Western Michigan University 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-22) and secured a first round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The RedHawks' (18-8, 11-3 MAC) winning is their longest since the 2007 season, in which they also won nine consecutive matches on their way to a MAC Tournament crown and a NCAA Tournament appearance.

"Our backcourt passing really helped our offense shine," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "It helped us beat a formidable opponent on the road. Meg Riley and Sarah Chaney were on fire, and we're starting to become a more balanced offense that's more difficult to defend. We have a number of left hitters challenging to be on the left side and that also is making us better. Krista Brakauskas showed her athleticism and competitiveness and has helped Meg get closer to her 1,000th kill by putting the ball in different locations. Annie Reiswig has also shown some improvement and some savvy off the bench and Meg is only an assist away from her 2,000th.

In the match against the Broncos (16-13, 7-7 MAC), senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley was not far from a triple-double as she had 11 kills, 23 assists and nine digs on the night. Riley was named MAC East Division Player of the Week.

Senior outside hitter Sarah Chaney, posted 10 kills for the second consecutive match, with seven being tallied in the second set.

Sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas registered a double-double as well with 24 assists and 11 digs. Freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek barely missed out on one of her own, with nine kills and nine digs. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Hill also was in striking distance of having double-digit kills as she had nine, five of which came in the first set.

The Broncos had some success offensively as they had two players with double-digit kills and three more with a hitting percentage of .300 or higher. It was a group effort defensively for Western Michigan, as it had three players account for 10 or more digs.

"This weekend was huge for us," Brakauskas said. "It's tough when it's late in the season and you're facing a team you hadn't seen before. Both teams came out strong and Western's hitters came out hitting the ball hard, but we proved that we're a team to look out for. Our right side and our middles did a good job and our passers were solid the whole match and kept our offense steady. We proved that we're an amazing team and that we can win the MAC, and we can't wait for these last games of the MAC season and we're excited for the opportunity."

The RedHawks finish off the regular season on the road as they take on Kent State University 7 p.m. Friday and Ohio University 7 p.m. Saturday.

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