MILWAUKEE – After a hard-fought, five-set battle, the Miami University volleyball team came up just short as it fell to Milwaukee, 2-3 (21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 11-15), in the finale of the Panther Invitational on Saturday. The RedHawks fall to 2-1 on the season, while the Panthers improve to 3-0.
Sophomore middle hitter Paige Hill had 16 kills, only one short of her career-high. Senior setter/outside hitter Meg Riley finished with 11 kills and 30 assists for her third straight double-double. At the conclusion of the event, both were selected to the All-Tournament Team.
Two kills from Hill, one from freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek and a service ace by junior outside hitter Annie Reiswig gave Miami a 4-0 lead to begin set one. Milwaukee responded with a 7-2 run to take the lead at 7-6. With the score tied at nine, an 8-3 run by the Panthers put them in control at 17-12. The RedHawks were able to get as close as two points after kills from sophomore outside hitter Maris Below and Riley, along with a service ace by sophomore Krista Brakauskas, but Milwaukee quickly pushed the advantage back to six at 22-16. Kills from Rusek and Hill were part of one last 4-0 run by Miami, but it could not get any closer as Milwaukee won the first set, 25-21.
Tied at eight in set two, a block by Riley and Hill, along with a kill from Below started a 7-3 run that gave Miami a 15-11 lead and forced the Panthers to call timeout. With the score 16-13, a kill from Rusek followed by two straight service aces by Brakauskas put the ‘Hawks up six. That proved to be enough for the Red and White, as they finished off a 25-20 win with a block by Hill and senior right side hitter Sarah Chaney.
Kills from Riley, Rusek, Hill and redshirt junior middle hitter Jenny Ingle helped lead Miami to a 10-6 advantage to begin set three. Milwaukee rallied to tie the score at 14, but kills from Hill and Chaney, along with a pair of blocks by Ingle put Miami back in control. The RedHawks took another 25-20 victory after Brakauskas set up Riley for a final kill.
Ingle was hot early on in set four, as she recorded four kills. Despite that, neither team could build a lead of more than one point throughout the first half of the set. Tied at 13, the Panthers scored two straight to get the first two-point lead. Ingle answered right back with a kill and solo block to retie the score. Tied at 16, Milwaukee went on a 5-1 run to finally create some separation. Hill and Ingle each put down another kill, but the Panthers hung on for a 25-21 win to send the match into a final set.
Milwaukee opened up a 4-1 lead to begin set five. Two kills from Ingle, along with kills from Riley and Hill helped the RedHawks close to within one at 5-6. Another 4-1 run by the Panthers put them in control at 10-6. Miami was twice able to get within two as a kill by Ingle made it 11-13, but Milwaukee scored the final two points to take a 15-11 victory and win the match, 3-2.
Ingle finished with 12 kills for the RedHawks. She made only one error in 18 attacks for a hitting percentage of .611. Rusek had eight kills, while Chaney finished with six. Brakauskas had 23 assists and eight digs, while Below and freshman libero Maeve McDonald tied for the team lead with 11 digs apiece.
Miami returns to action next weekend when it participates in the Indiana Invitational. On Friday, Sept. 5 the RedHawks take on the host Indiana Hoosiers at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 6, Miami faces Mississippi State at 10 a.m. and concludes the event against Southeast Missouri State at 5 p.m.