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Condit wins 600th as RedHawk, then 700th ever

Jugal Jain - The Miami Student
Jugal Jain - The Miami Student

Miami's head volleyball coach Carolyn Condit earned her 700th career victory on Saturday evening with a 3-0 win over Eastern Michigan. This came after her 600th win as a RedHawk in a 3-1 win over Central Michigan on Friday evening.

"I guess it was meant to be to do it at home," Condit said on Saturday. "I don't really think about it coming up on me and here we are at home celebrating both of those."

The RedHawks are now 14-7 overall, 7-3 at home and 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference after the two MAC matchups. Miami now sits No. 2 in the MAC, trailing only Bowling Green who are 7-1 in conference play.

The Central Michigan Chippewas fall to 10-9 overall and 2-5 in the MAC and the Eastern Michigan Eagles are now 10-14 overall and 2-6 in the MAC.

The RedHawks welcomed back Redshirt junior setter Mackenzie Zielinski from injury and were .319 for the match against CMU. The 'Hawks limited the Chippewas to a .168 attack percentage, though they surrendered the first match 23-25 before taking the next three 25-19, 25-13 and 25-20.

"It's nice to get Mackenzie back," Associate Head Coach Chuck Rey said. "We were able to stay calm and consistent out there and distribute the ball really well."

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Daignault was a standout and ended with 14 kills -- the most for Miami on Friday. Daignault started the RedHawks' scoring with kills to propel the RedHawks to 9-5 early in set one. CMU countered with a 12-9 run to make it 17-18 and forced a MU timeout. The Chippewas and RedHawks battled and the 'Hawks went up 23-21 before the Chippewas scored four in a row to win the set 25-23.

CMU rode the offensive wave and roared to 7-4 in set two. Three consecutive kills from the RedHawks tied the score and the 'Hawks' senior outside hitter Olivia Rusek had a pair to attempt to put her team ahead. The Chippewas countered and went back up 15-13, but Rusek and sophomore middle hitter Margaret Payne rallied again with two kills, tying the score at 17. Senior outside hitter/right side Katie Tomasic and senior middle hitter Meredith Stutz blocked the Chippewas to keep their team at the tie. Once the RedHawks went up 20-18 after several attack errors, Miami closed with a 5-1 run to win the set at 25-19.

Set three was marked by a dominating RedHawk offense. Miami went up 9-8 to start and Stutz, Daignault and Tomasic created a 16-9 advantage. Daignault had two more kills, the Chippewas had three attack errors in a row and Miami made it 21-10. Payne and Tomasic ended with kills in a decisive 25-13 set victory.

Set four opened with Miami riding their offensive high to a 7-2 margin. CMU would fight back and score the next six points to go up 11-9. True to the back-and-forth nature of the set, kills from around the court put the RedHawks up 15-11 to which the Chippewas battled back to 18-20. CMU fell down two with back-to-back attack errors and Miami's Daignault propelled her team to a 25-20 set win and a 3-1 match victory.

"I think we overloaded a little bit with our seniors and go-tos early and after that first set was done, we distributed the ball," Rey said. "I'll tell you what, our sophomores Margaret Payne and Taylor Daignault, they led the way in kills tonight."

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Besides Daignault's dominating performance, Zielinski had 28 assists, senior libero Maeve McDonald had 19 digs and Stutz had 5 blocks.

"We'll just keep rolling," Rey said. "It took us a set tonight, but hopefully tomorrow we'll just roll through. Eastern's a great team and we know they are and we don't take any team lightly here."

Fittingly, on Saturday, RedHawk alumnae rolled through Oxford, as the 1982 MAC Championship banner was unveiled. This season is Condit's 34th as head coach at Miami and several of her former players were in attendance to see her historic victory.

Before Miami, Condit was head coach at Xavier for four seasons where she collected 99 wins. Condit's career record is now 700-534 and she has the 12th most wins among active NCAA Division I coaches.

"I think the keys are we know we can win and we never quit and we stay in the moment from point to point," Condit said of her current team. "I thought our hitters stayed aggressive and we had some great coverages at the right time."

It took only three sets for the 'Hawks to shut down the Eagles, but EMU put forth a strong effort in the final two sets so the final scores came to 25-16, 35-33, 28-26. The RedHawks hit .209 for the match, while holding the Eagles to a .155 attack percentage. Rusek led Miami's offense with 14 kills and McDonald led the defense with 25 digs.

Miami commandingly took the first set, as Rusek opened with four kills and the RedHawks went up 10-4 early. The lead was extended to 17-9 with a service ace from McDonald and kills from sophomore middle hitter Haley Stewart and Rusek. The Eagles closed the gap to 14-19, the closest they would come in the set, before Miami finished with a kill from Tomasic to take the set 25-16.

Set two saw the 'Hawks and the Eagles battle to the 35-33 end. Miami took the lead early again, with three kills from Daignault to go up 13-9. EMU came close at 13-16, before a 6-4 MU run put the 'Hawks up 22-17. EMU dominated play to make it 23-21 and then set point at 24-23. The teams took turns fighting off set point five times before back-to-back kills from Rusek gave Miami the 35-33 victory.

EMU would rally and go ahead to a 9-5 lead in set three. Miami took a timeout and came back with the energy for a 6-3 run that put the RedHawks close at 11-12. The 'Hawks went up 14-13 briefly, but the Eagles went on to create set point at 24-22. Miami fought back to tie the score first at 24 and then at 26, before Payne gave Miami the 28-26 win.

Rusek had 14 kills on the night, Zielinski had 30 assists and McDonald had 25 digs.

The victories propel the RedHawks further into conference play and solidify Condit's place in history.

"It couldn't be nicer, I'm blessed to have so many alums here that actually made this happen with their great athleticism and how hard they work, including my present team," Condit said. "Including all my assistant coaches that I've had, they've lifted me up to get to this present milestone, so I thank each and every one of them. I'm really grateful for all the fantastic people I've worked with."