NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman middle hitter Paige Hill had a spectacular debut for the Miami University volleyball team, recording 11 kills to help lead the RedHawks to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-10) victory over Gardner-Webb to open the Belmont Invitational. Miami improves to 1-0 on the season, while the Runnin’ Bulldogs fall to 0-1.
Hill was nearly flawless during the match, recording only one attack error in 21 attempts. She hit .476 overall and also contributed six digs, three blocks and two service aces.
“It was a great match for Paige,” said head coach Carolyn Condit. “She had the sense to know when to be up for her setters. She saw the opposing court extremely well and kept her errors to the minimum.”
Gardner-Webb opened a 6-3 lead to begin the first set. Kills by Hill, sophomore outside hitter Sarah Chaney and sophomore middle hitter Jenny Ingle helped the RedHawks pull into a tie at seven. The teams traded points until the Runnin’ Bulldogs were able to push the advantage back to three at 15-12 and force a Miami timeout.
Trailing 14-17, the RedHawks made their run. Hill had a kill and assisted on two blocks as Miami scored the next six points to go in front, 20-17. Gardner-Webb answered with two straight points to cut the deficit to one, but a kill and a service ace by Hill, along with three attack errors by the Runnin’ Bulldogs gave the RedHawks a 25-19 opening set win.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs once again started off strong, opening up a 6-0 lead to begin set two. A kill from Ingle and two straight from junior outside hitter Meg Riley began a 7-1 run that quickly tied the score at seven apiece. Tied at nine, a block by Hill and junior middle hitter Chelsea Visk started a 5-2 run that put Miami in front, 14-11. The RedHawks were able to maintain that advantage for the next several points, as a pair of Gardner-Webb attack errors gave Miami a 19-17 lead.
GWU scored four straight points to take a 21-19 advantage and force the Red and White to call timeout. Out of the break, the Runnin’ Bulldogs scored the next point, but two straight kills by Hill off Riley assists would cut the deficit to one. A service error made it 23-21 in favor of Gardner-Webb, but Miami responded right back with a kill from freshman outside hitter Maris Below. An attack error by GWU tied the score at 23 and this time it was the Runnin’ Bulldogs who called timeout. After that break, Ingle put down a kill and Hill recorded her second service ace of the match to earn a 25-23 victory for the Red and White.
There would be no slow start for Miami in set three as three kills from Below helped the RedHawks jump to a 10-3 advantage. Hill and Riley each put down kills off of freshman setter Krista Brakauskas’ assist to push the lead to 11 at 17-6. In front 19-8, Miami finished with a 6-2 run to earn a dominating, 25-10, win.
“Our backcourt deserves some credit because they dug the ball very well in set three,” said Condit.
Riley and Ingle each finished with six kills, while Below put down five. Riley led the way with 18 assists, while junior libero Tori Clifford had 15 digs. Miami hit .196 as a team, and held Gardner-Webb to a .034 hitting percentage.
The RedHawks complete play at the Belmont Invitational on Saturday with a pair of matches. Miami takes on Memphis at 11 a.m. (EDT). It then faces the host Bruins at 7 p.m. (EDT).