ST. LOUIS – In an extremely hard-fought match, the Miami University volleyball team came from behind to defeat Saint Louis, 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15) to open the Billiken Challenge on Friday. The RedHawks improve to 6-1 on the season, while the Billikens fall to 3-6.
A St. Louis native, junior outside hitter/setter Meg Riley seemingly willed Miami to victory. She led the team with 19 kills, and made it her fifth double-double of the season with 19 assists.
Sophomore middle hitter Jenny Ingle also came up big for the RedHawks, finishing with 15 kills. She made only two errors on 26 total attempts for a .500 hitting percentage. Ingle also contributed five blocks (one solo and four assisted).
A service ace by freshman setter Krista Brakauskas and a kill from Riley helped Miami start with a 4-2 lead in set one. Saint Louis responded with an 8-2 run to take a 10-6 advantage and force a RedHawk timeout. Out of the break, Riley and Ingle each had two kills as part of a 7-3 run that tied the score at 13. Miami eventually took the advantage at 17-15 off a Riley service ace, but six straight points from the Billikens gave Saint Louis a 21-17 lead. Two kills by freshman outside hitter Maris Below and one from junior middle hitter Chelsea Visk cut the deficit to one once again, but SLU closed on a 4-1 run to earn a 25-22 win.
The Billikens opened a 6-3 lead to begin set two. A kill and service ace by Visk were part of a 5-1 run that put the RedHawks in front, 8-7. After SLU scored a point, six straight points by Miami put the Red and White in control at 14-8. Ingle and Below each recorded a pair of kills as the ‘Hawks eventually pushed the advantage to eight at 22-14. Saint Louis made a run to pull as close as three, but Miami came away with a 25-21 victory.
It didn’t start well for Miami in set three as it quickly fell behind, 2-9. Three kills from Riley and a block by Riley and Visk were part of a 12-5 run that pulled the RedHawks to within two at 12-14. Saint Louis was able to get the advantage back to seven at 20-13, but Miami fought back once again thanks to kills by Ingle, Riley and sophomore outside hitter Annie Reiswig off of Brakauskas assists. That helped the RedHawks pull to within four at 17-21. Unfortunately, Miami could not get any closer as the Billikens pulled away to take a 25-18 win.
Tied at seven in set four, Miami took control with an 11-5 run that gave it an 18-12 lead. Riley was the star of that run, coming up with three important kills. The Billikens answered back with a 6-2 run of their own to pull within two at 18-20 and force a RedHawk timeout. Out of the break, Visk and senior outside hitter Madison Dodd teamed up for a block that got the Miami offense going again. Dodd put down a kill, while Ingle and Below combined for a block to help the ‘Hawks finish on a 5-1 run to win set four, 25-19, and send the match to a decisive fifth set.
Service aces from Brakauskas and Below helped Miami take a 5-2 advantage in set five early. The Billikens fought back to tie the score at six. An attack error by Saint Louis and a kill from Reiswig gave Miami an 8-6 lead. The teams traded side outs over the next 10 points, with a kill from Ingle giving the RedHawks a 13-11 lead. Reiswig followed with another kill of her own to make it match point at 14-11. The Billikens did not give up as they scored the next three points to tie it at 14. A kill by Riley off of Brakauskas’ assist gave Miami yet another match point, but again Saint Louis answered back. Dodd recorded a kill to make it 16-15, and this time the RedHawks forced the Billikens to hit it out of bounds to finish off a 17-15 win.
Below finished with 10 kills, giving Miami three players with double-digits in that category. Brakauskas led the ‘Hawks with 27 assists, while junior libero Tori Clifford had 15 digs. Miami had eight service aces in the match, with Brakauskas finishing with a team-leading three.
The RedHawks continue play at the Billiken Challenge on Saturday when they take on Bradley at 11 a.m. (EDT) and Youngstown State at 5:30 p.m.