BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Miami University volleyball match did not go quite as planned, as redshirt junior setter Mackenzie Zielinski went down with an injury only a few points into the match. However, the RedHawks rebounded from a first set loss to earn a 3-1 (17-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-22) win over Buffalo Friday evening. With its fourth straight win, Miami improves to 20-8 overall and 12-3 in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulls fall to 15-11 overall and 8-7 in the MAC.
“Unexpected adversity hit our team once more with Mackenzie getting injured in the match early in set one,” said head coach Carolyn Condit. “Morgan stepped up and played one of her best matches of the season, and it was fun watching the hitters rally with her.”
Senior outside hitter Olivia Rusek continued the tear she has been on, tying a career-high with 21 kills. She had only four errors in 50 attempts for a .340 attack percentage. Rusek made it a double-double by getting 10 digs.
Pressed into emergency 5-1 setter duty, freshman setter Morgan Seaman recorded a career-high 54 assists to go with her 14 digs. She was joined in the defensive effort by senior libero Maeve McDonald, who had 33 digs.
Trailing 2-4 in set one, Zielinski suffered an injury diving for the ball, forcing Seaman into the contest early. Senior right side hitter Katie Tomasic and Rusek followed with kills, while a service ace by Rusek and kill from sophomore middle hitter Margaret Payne gave Miami an 8-6 lead. Buffalo scored the next five in a row to go in front by three. A kill from Rusek and a service ace by Seaman cut the deficit to 10-11, but the Bulls answered with a 7-2 run to take control at 18-12. Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Daignault had a pair of kills, but the RedHawks could get no closer as UB took a 25-17 win.
Things looked bleak for Miami in set two as the Bulls built a 13-6 advantage. Three kills from Rusek and one by Tomasic helped begin an 8-1 rally that tied the score at 14. A kill and a service ace by senior middle hitter Meredith Stutz put the ‘Hawks on top at 16-15. Payne recorded two kills, while freshman outside hitter Abigail Huser had one as Miami increased its advantage to 22-17. A pair of kills from Rusek finished off a 25-19 victory and sent the match to intermission tied at one.
A block by Tomasic and Stutz and kills from Tomasic and Daignault were part of a strong start for Miami in set three as it built a 6-3 lead. Rusek recorded two more points, while Seaman had another service ace to help the Red and White increase the advantage to 11-6 and force a UB timeout. The Bulls fought back after the break, eventually pulling to within one at 15-16. Kills by Payne and Rusek were part of a 4-2 run that gave MU a 20-17 lead. Leading 22-19, back-to-back kills from Tomasic gave the RedHawks set point. Buffalo fought it off twice, but a final kill from Tomasic gave Miami a 25-21 win.
Tomasic came out swinging in set four, recording three kills to help Miami to an 8-3 advantage. Buffalo rallied to tie the score at 10 before a pair of kills from Rusek and a service ace by Seaman got the ‘Hawks offense rolling again. The Bulls were not done as they closed to within one at 16-17 and forced Miami to use a timeout. Payne had another kill, but UB eventually tied the score at 20. Back-to-back kills from Rusek and Tomasic put the RedHawks back in control at 22-20. The Bulls scored next, but two kills from Rusek and one more from Tomasic finished off a 25-22 win and gave Miami a 3-1 victory in the match.
Tomasic finished with 16 kills and a .452 attack percentage for the RedHawks. Payne had 11 kills, while Daignault and Stutz each recorded six. Miami hit .252 for the match, and held the Bulls to a .202 attack percentage. The ‘Hawks out dug the Bulls, 82-70.
“Olivia showed both power and creativity leading the charge, with Tomasic and both middles attacking their share to the floor,” said Condit.
After Bowling Green won Friday as well, the two teams remain tied for the MAC Regular Season lead at 12-3. The RedHawks will attempt to win a share of their second consecutive MAC title and the number one seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament when they travel to Akron for a 3 p.m. matinee. That match can be seen live on ESPN3.