MILWAUKEE – It was a successful start to the 2014 season as the Miami University volleyball team defeated North Dakota State, 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-23) to open play at the Panther Invitational on Saturday. Sophomore middle hitter Paige Hill and freshman outside hitter Olivia Rusek led the RedHawks with nine kills each.

The first kill of the season came off the attack of Hill. Despite that and a solo block from senior setter/right side hitter Meg Riley, North Dakota State was able to take an 11-8 lead to begin set one. Kills from Hill and Riley were part of a 7-3 run that gave the RedHawks the advantage at 15-14. Tied at 17, the Bison put Miami on the ropes with a 6-1 run that gave them a 23-18 lead. A kill from senior right side hitter Sarah Chaney and a block by Hill helped the ‘Hawks score the next five points to tie the score at 23. After a service error gave NDSU set point, Miami completed the comeback with three straight points to take a 26-24 win.

With the score tied at seven in set two, a pair of kills from Rusek and a service ace by sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas were part of a 6-0 run that put the RedHawks in front, 13-7. North Dakota State scored the next two points, but Riley, Hill and Chaney took over, each putting down kills as part of a 7-4 run that gave Miami a seven point lead at 20-13. From there, two kills from redshirt junior middle hitter Jenny Ingle, along with one from sophomore outside hitter Maris Below helped finish off a 25-15 victory for the Red and White.

The Bison looked strong early in set three, taking an 11-5 advantage. Miami forced NDSU into several attack errors as it scored the next eight points, with a service ace from Brakauskas giving the RedHawks a 13-11 lead. Tied at 14, kills from Hill, Below, Rusek and freshman middle hitter Meredith Stutz gave Miami an 18-15 advantage. North Dakota State was able to get as close as one point, but two kills from Rusek kept the ‘Hawks on top. A bad set from the Bison finished off the 25-23 win and gave Miami a straight-set victory.

In addition to Rusek and Hill’s nine kills, Chaney and Riley each had six. Riley finished with a double-double of 15 assists and 13 digs. Brakauskas nearly had a double-double of her own with 17 assists and nine digs. Senior libero Tori Clifford finished with 12 digs. Miami hit .243 for the match, while holding North Dakota State to a .128 hitting percentage.

The RedHawks continue play at the Panther Invitational later Saturday when they take on Robert Morris at 6 p.m. (EDT).