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Volleyball beats Toledo, claims first place in Mid-American Conference

The Miami RedHawks sit alone atop the Mid-American Conference.

After Ball State took down Bowling Green earlier Saturday, the RedHawks defeated Toledo 3-1 at Millett Hall to claim sole first place in the MAC.

"Toledo, we knew, was going to be a good team," head coach Carolyn Condit said. "They're a lot different than last year in some ways. They're tall. Boy, the swings they take are very impressive. They really challenged us in every way."

The 'Hawks (17-5, 9-1 MAC) entered the weekend with identical in-conference records to both Ball State and Bowling Green.

Junior outside hitter Taylor Daignault is pleased with her team's performance this season.

"[Our record] just attests to how hard we work as a team and how well we play together and how well we're gelling," Daignault said. "It's great to be able to prove all the preseason polls wrong."

Miami was listed as the MAC East's fourth best team entering 2018.

Daignault led the RedHawks in kills and tallied a 13-kill, 12-dig double-double. She finished second on the team in digs and attack percentage (.243). Her efforts earned her Player of the Match.

"Taylor Daignault was amazing," Condit said. "Her hand control and the shots she found against this team really kept them off-balance. Taylor was just creative all night. She made a big difference."

Miami started strong and appeared to be well on its way to steamrolling the Rockets (8-13, 3-7 MAC) throughout the first two sets.

The RedHawks scored three straight points to open the contest and never trailed during a dominant 25-20 first-set victory.

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Notching two quick points to open the second, Toledo took its first lead of the match. The set was hotly contested, as neither team secured a lead greater than four. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Sarah Wojick made it 17-16 and put the 'Hawks ahead for good. Friday night's hero, senior middle hitter Courtney Simons, put down a kill to end a 25-22 Miami set win.

With Miami needing to pick up just one more set to claim a 3-0 sweep, momentum shifted.

The Rockets fired back, starting the third with a 9-3 run. Miami cut its deficit to three on two separate occasions but couldn't sustain a favorable stretch. Toledo pulled away and won the set 25-17.

UT's momentum continued into the fourth, when it started on a 4-1 run. This time, however, Miami countered.

Several Rocket errors and the impressive play of Daignault allowed the RedHawks to battle back. They knotted the score at five. After trading several points, Miami ended the set and the match with a 15-7 run to clinch a 3-1 victory.

"We have a lot of depth on our team, so we got a lot of different people in," Daignault said about regaining momentum. "We switched up our lineup a little bit, and with all that depth, we're just able to pull out those games."

Toledo outhit the RedHawks .236 to .173 and committed eight less attack errors.

MU sophomore setter Morgan Seaman passed for a team-high 22 assists, while sophomore libero Abigail Huser had a career-high 30 digs.

Toledo's junior middle hitter Zoe Birnbrich scored a game-high 19 kills. Senior setter Carly Townsend finished with an impressive 44 assists, but perpetrated several costly ball-handling errors.

Miami's winning streak now sits at seven straight - all MAC games. Condit thinks that success will continue.

"They're just a hungry group," Condit said. "I'll give them that credit too. They're not someone I have to motivate everyday, but satisfaction can kick in. We're hoping that doesn't happen, and I know they don't want it to."

The RedHawks continue their homestand Friday when they host Buffalo at Millett Hall. Miami beat the Bulls, 3-0, in the two teams' lone matchup this season. Friday's action is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.