TOLEDO, Ohio -The Miami University volleyball team is on the road for its next four matches over the next two weeks. This weekend, the RedHawks head to Toledo Friday for a 7 p.m. match against the Rockets. Miami then moves on to Ball State Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest.
HALFWAY THROUGH THE MAC: The MAC has reached the halfway point of its 16 match schedule. That means the battle to finish in the top eight and qualify for a spot in the MAC Tournament is beginning to pick up. Ball State leads the way at 7-1. Ohio and Bowling Green are right behind at 6-2. WMU and Toledo hold the four and five seeds at the moment with 5-3 records, while Kent State, Northern Illinois and Buffalo round out the current field at 4-4. CMU is 3-5, Miami and EMU are each 2-6 and Akron is 0-8. With the next seven matches against teams that are currently in the top eight, the RedHawks will have the opportunity to play their way into the MAC Tournament, which takes place Nov. 22-24 at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
THAT’S A LOT OF DIGS: It was nearly a record breaking night for defense on Thursday in Miami’s 3-2 win over Eastern Michigan. As a team, the RedHawks recorded 128 digs, which was only five short of the school record of 133, set against Central Michigan on Nov. 3, 1990. They were led by senior libero Madison Hardy, who finished with a career-high 39 digs. That included 10 digs in the fifth and final set. She finished only six digs shy of the school record, which is 45 digs set by Jenny Schwarber against Bowling Green on Nov. 13, 1992. That effort, along with 22 digs the next night against Central Michigan, earned Hardy MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
ABOUT TOLEDO: The Rockets are 12-10 overall and 5-3 in the MAC. They have had a turnaround season after finishing 8-21 and 2-14 in the league last year. Toledo split its two matches last weekend, falling to Ohio, 1-3, on Friday before rebounding to defeat Kent State, 3-1, on Saturday. It is led by senior outside hitter Lauren Rafdal. She has 330 kills, an average of 3.93 per set. Another key player is freshman libero Ellen Hays. She has 381 digs, an average of 4.48 per set.
THE SERIES AGAINST THE ROCKETS: Miami leads the all-time series with Toledo, 38-11. Last season on Oct. 19 in Oxford, the RedHawks came away with a 3-0 victory. Jenny Ingle led Miami with 15 kills and made only one error in 22 attempts for a .636 hitting percentage.
ABOUT BALL STATE: The Cardinals are 19-4 overall and lead the MAC with a 7-1 record. Like Toledo, they have had a turnaround year after finishing 14-17 overall and 7-9 in the MAC last season. Last weekend, Ball State won a pair of matches on the road. It took down Kent State, 3-1, on Friday before earning a dramatic, five-set victory over Ohio on Saturday. The Cardinals are led by junior outside hitter Alex Fuelling. She has 285 kills, an average of 3.75 per set. Another key player is senior libero Catie Fredrich. She has 373 digs, an average of 4.55 per set.
THE SERIES AGAINST THE CARDINALS: Ball State holds a 38-33 lead in the all-time series with Miami. On Oct. 20 last season in Oxford, the RedHawks came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the fourth set, 27-25, and the fifth set 15-11 and knock off the Cardinals. Meg Riley had 20 kills and 21 assists in the match, while Sarah Chaney contributed 14 kills.