Kyle Steiner, The Miami Student
Fresh off setting a new school record for consecutive games won, the Miami University volleyball team (20-4, 12-0) heads on the road this weekend, as the RedHawks square off against instate Mid-American Conference foes Ohio University and Kent State University.
"It felt amazing to break the record," senior outside hitter Maris Below said. "Our goal has always been to win the conference, but setting the win streak mark was something to add to the legacy this team can leave here at Miami. It is very cool to see us get a record like this that shows the years of hard work this group has put in."
The final stretch of the regular season begins 7 p.m. Friday night in Athens against the archrival Bobcats. MU previously beat OU in straight sets in late September.
Ohio (13-11, 9-3) enters the game on a three-game winning streak. The Bobcats currently sit three games behind the first-place 'Hawks in the MAC East Division.
Redshirt junior middle hitter Ali Lake has lead OU's offense this season, hitting an efficient .316 attacking percentage. Ohio also boosts one of the best setters in the conference, as sophomore setter Stephanie Olman leads the league with 10.96 assists per set.
Miami then travels north to face the Golden Flashes on Saturday night at 5 p.m. MU has defeated KSU in four of their previous five meetings.
Kent State enters the weekend 13-12 overall with a 6-6 conference mark. The team is hungry to defeat the first-place RedHawks in front of their home crowd.
Junior outside hitter Kelsey Bittinger leads the Kent attack, as she is second in the league with 330 kills on the year. The Red and White will also have to face off against one of the MAC'S premier defensive specialists, as junior libero Challen Geraghty is putting up 5.35 digs per set, also putting her at second in the league.
The RedHawks enter the weekend at full strength, with senior leaders Below and middle hitter Paige Hill playing at the top of their games. Below recorded a double-double against Northern Illinois University, and finished with 21 kills and 17 digs on the weekend. Her performance earned her Miami Athlete of the Week honors.
Hill made only one attack error on 34 attempts on the weekend, giving her an impressive .500 attack percentage for the two games.
With back to back away wins, the 'Hawks win streak would reach 21 games. The squad currently has the longest active win streak in NCAA Division I.
"While the win over NIU was great, it was still just another step towards our ultimate goal of becoming MAC champions," sophomore outside hitter Stela Kukoc said. "It is by no means the end of our season. We still have four more big games coming up and then the conference tournament. We haven't won anything yet."
The Red and White are looking to keep this mentality as they wrap up the regular season with a MAC regular season title in sight.