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Top-seeded Miami volleyball knocked from MAC Tournament

<p>Senior middle hitter Margaret Payne and freshman outside hitter Allyson Severance combine for a block against Kent State. Miami beat the Golden Flashes, 3-0, on Nov. 2 and Millett Hall.</p>

Senior middle hitter Margaret Payne and freshman outside hitter Allyson Severance combine for a block against Kent State. Miami beat the Golden Flashes, 3-0, on Nov. 2 and Millett Hall.

Despite being the Mid-American Conference Tournament’s top seed, the RedHawks were sent home early after a crushing 3-1 defeat by Ball State in the semifinal round Saturday in Bowling Green. 

Miami has not announced any postseason plans yet, leaving its season in doubt.

In possibly their last collegiate game, a few of the senior players made their lasting mark on Saturday’s game. Middle hitter Margaret Payne finished a very strong campaign by knocking down 14 kills on 26 attempts (53 percent). 

Defensive specialist Taylor Daignault lived up to her position, leading the team with 25 digs (tying her career-high) and chipping in two blocks.

Daignault was also one of three RedHawks with double-digit kills. She finished with 12.

The Cardinals jumped on the ’Hawks early, building a lead as large as six points in the first set. However, Miami came into the tournament as a No. 1 seed for good reason, and it was able to tie the set at 16. 

Momentum tipped the other way, with Ball State taking nine of the next 11 and taking the early 1-0 advantage in the set. 

In the second set, the Cardinals saw an opportunity to capitalize on a RedHawk squad that had yet to have a lead in the match. The Cards proceeded to push their lead all the way to 24-20.

The RedHawks made another comeback, taking the next four points and forcing the set into extra play. Needing a win by two, the two sides traded points before the RedHawks took the set on a Sarah Wojick kill and a Ball State attack error. 

Thankfully for all fans in attendance, the third set was as closely fought as the first two. Wojick got the RedHawks on the board first, but the Cardinals stood tall and snatched the lead right back. 

Trading blows, the Cardinals never led by more than three, and Miami was able to take the lead three different times. At 23-23, the RedHawks ran out of gas. A Miami attack error and a Cardinal kill sealed the third set, giving a 2-1 edge to Ball State. 

Determined to make another comeback, junior setter Morgan Seaman took it right to the Cardinals with an opening service ace. Just as the previous three sets before, the fourth set would be a heavyweight battle, with both teams refusing to go down easy.

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Down once again, 24-20, the RedHawks were poised to drag the match to five sets. It was not to be, as an attack error gave the set and the match to Ball State and gave Miami an early bus ride home. 

Regardless of postseason possibility, the class of 2020 has to be proud of its work this season, gaining four consecutive MAC titles. 

And though the team fell short in the tournament, RedHawk fans should already be looking forward to how Carolyn Condit’s team will respond going forward. If Miami’s run is to continue, postseason arrangements will be announced on MiamiRedHawks.com.

guistom@miamioh.edu

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