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Weekend split keeps Miami third in division

By Ben Blanchard, The Miami Student

The Miami University volleyball team defeated archrival Ohio University in straight sets Friday night, handing the Mid-American Conference leading Bobcats only their second conference loss of the season. MU's 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-22) win ended a 12-match losing streak against OU.

Saturday night was a different story for Miami. The Red and White suffered their first home loss of the season, falling to Kent State University 3-0 (20-25, 22-25, 22-25).

"We got really pumped after we won, and we thought [Saturday] would be a little easier for us," sophomore outside hitter Olivia Rusek said. "Obviously it wasn't, and we need to have the same aggressive mentality from now on."

This weekend matches were critical for all three teams, as they occupy the top three spots in the MAC East Division. The standings remain the same after the weekend, with OU (19-5 overall, 10-2 conference) ranked first, KSU (15-9, 9-3) second and Miami (16-9, 8-4) third.

Sophomore libero Maeve McDonald and junior middle hitter Paige Hill led the 'Hawks in Friday's win. McDonald had a team-high 24 digs, while Hill recorded eight blocks. Hill was a dominant offensive presence, finishing with 12 kills, a .435 hitting percentage and only two errors in 23 attack attempts.

Miami's defense held OU to a.037 attack percentage and outblocked the Bobcats 15-3.

The 'Hawks opened the first set with an 8-3 run, fueled by solo blocks from Hill and junior outside hitter Maris Below and two kills from senior outside hitter Annie Reiswig.

On Saturday, Miami finished with a solid .265 attack percentage, but Kent State overwhelmed the RedHawks with a .315 attack percentage. KSU senior right side hitter Kelly Hutchison contributed 13 kills, while Hill led the RedHawks with nine.

MU got off to a good start in the match, as Reiswig and Below each notched a kill to power Miami to a 6-3 lead. The Golden Flashes responded with an 8-2 run that forced a RedHawk timeout. Both teams made runs throughout the rest of the set, but Kent State finished on a 5-2 run to close off a 25-20 first set win.

The second set saw a better start from the Golden Flashes, who jumped out to a 10-7 lead. Miami fought back to tie the game at 12, but Kent State went on a 5-1 run to take control and eventually earn a 25-22 victory.

KSU opened up a 7-4 lead in the third set. Miami pushed back to tie the game at 10, but the Golden Flashes went on a run to put the set out of reach. Kent State finished the third set with a 25-22 victory to take the match in straight sets.

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Miami plays University of Akron at 7 p.m. Friday and State University of New York Buffalo at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"We're really excited to play next weekend," Rusek said. "We're out for blood after this game."