While the RedHawks went .500 in a weekend for what seemed like the 100th time this season, fans left the stadium with something new to consider.
A lot of confusion has surrounded the hypothesized success of the volleyball team with a mix of stumbling in non-conference play as well as an injury list long enough to write a book.
The MAC-favorite RedHawks (7-8, 2-2 MAC) came back home to play for the first time in a month to start conference play against the Bulls of Buffalo (5-10, 1-2 MAC) and the Akron Zips (11-4, 4-0 MAC), on Friday and Saturday respectively.
With Buffalo being almost rushed out of the doors of Millett Hall with how quickly the RedHawks made work of them, Akron came zipping into sweep the ’Hawks and remain atop the conference standings.
Although Friday and Saturday saw two different editions of Miami, this weekend looked like the catalyst for the RedHawks to get back on their feet and charge all the way to the MAC Tournament.
Oh captain, my captain: Stewart returns in style
Injuries are tough to deal with, especially when you’ve never had to deal with them before.
Team captain and senior right side hitter Haley Stewart had been out since early September with back issues. This past weekend, she was finally back in the starting lineup.
“I was very pleased that Haley finally got back,” head coach Carolyn Condit said. “She’s feeling good. I can’t tell how happy I am to have [her] back in the lineup.”
Stewart also showed happiness in her return, collecting two kills on Friday.
Her good news doesn’t stop there: the senior from Wyoming, Ohio was able to be put on scholarship for her final season at Miami.
What could be worse than injuries? Well …
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Inconsistency looks to be the toughest opponent so far for the RedHawks. They haven’t put together a winning streak longer than two matches, and this weekend seemed to be another cause for concern.
Sophomore outside hitter Gaby Harper has been tallying kills throughout recent matches but with a lower hitting percentage. Unfortunate results on attacks also seem to be getting the better of senior outside hitter Taylor Daignault (10.2 percent on attacks this season).
Bowling Green and Northern Illinois are on deck for next weekend. While the Falcons have a winning record, they have been less impressive on the road, which might give the RedHawks the break they need on Thursday.
The NIU Huskies have been a wreck from top to bottom but match Miami in conference record.
Could this next weekend be the start of a long winning streak that the RedHawks have been hoping for?
They will look to get back to their old winning ways starting at 7 p.m. Thursday in Millett.
The new dynamic duo
Friday was a welcome sight.
Although a sweep of Buffalo brought back aspirations of a MAC title for Miami, emotions were running high.
Miami’s newest frontline look was the epitome of passion. Junior right side Sarah Wojick and junior middle Avarie Powell just might be what RedHawk fans have been looking for.
Both players have been at the top of their game recently, with Powell emerging as a true offensive threat with 25 kills on 38 attempts and two blocks.
Not enough can be said about Powell’s return to form after several knee procedures put her athletic future in jeopardy.
“I’ve had a rough journey” said an emotional Powell after being asked about her recent emergence. “It’s really cool that I’m back now, because there were a lot of times where it was really hard and I thought it was going to be over. I just knew there was more in me, so I just kept going. That’s what it’s all about … I didn’t think I was going to be playing middle ever again.”
The other part of the new-look frontcourt, Sarah Wojick, has been the fuel for the teamwork fire to keep burning.
“I just want the best for all my teammates. I just want my team to succeed”.
Every kill, every dig and every block by the RedHawks, Wojick’s war cries could always be heard above everyone.
Wojick continued her hot streak by tallying 11 kills, three blocks and three service aces.