Aug. 23, 2011
Entering the 2011 season a year older and a year wiser, the Miami University volleyball team looks to return to the top of the Mid-American Conference standings. An extremely young team last season, the RedHawks struggled early on, but came together to advance to the MAC Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. Now in her 28th season in charge of the Miami volleyball program, Carolyn Condit is confident that that late season run, along with 11 returning letterwinners, will translate into a successful 2011 campaign.
“Our team has matured in their game understanding, accountability and competitive style of play,” said Condit. “Their commitment to excellence and trust in each other is high. They have worked hard together. They believe in each other and in their own talents.”
Season tickets are now available for the home schedule. An adult ticket for all 11 games is $36, while an 18-and-under youth ticket is $22. Single game tickets can also be bought at $5 for adults and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can get in for $2 a person. Miami students get in free with their student ID.
The setter is the quarterback of any strong volleyball offense. The RedHawks are pleased to have two capable candidates for the position in returning starter junior Amy Kendall (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and freshman Meg Riley (St. Louis, Mo.). Coach Condit sees similar attributes in both, as they are tall, put up a strong block and are very competitive.
“Amy is one our captains,” said Condit. “She is physically fit and technically sound. She is engaged in every rally and loves to compete. As a junior she brings high expectations and a good dose of confidence to our court. Amy is capable of running an offense to contend with, and she is a real student of the game.
“Meg has the ability and competitive drive to make it a battle for the starting setter role,” Condit continued. “She needs time to know her hitters and fully engage in Miami’s offensive system, but she certainly has the tools and knows what it takes to win.”
Miami will feature some new faces at middle hitter in 2011. Gone is All-MAC performer Michele Metzler, but in her place are two returning players and one freshman eager to earn some playing time in the middle.
“Our middle hitters this year are athletic with good vertical jumps and fluid movement,” said Condit. “Each one has something different to offer, but they all have solid understanding of blocking technique and strategies, which will add to our defensive production this season.”
Picked to the All-MAC East Division Preseason Team, Cassie Farrell (Columbus, Ohio) will most likely be tasked with replacing Metzler early on. She finished fourth on the team with 203 kills last season, an average of 1.85 per set. She led Miami with 84 blocks in 2010, including a team-leading 16 solo and 68 assists.
“Steady under pressure, determined and aggressive are adjectives that best describe our senior middle hitter who put up some impressive numbers in 2010,” commented Condit. “One of the top blockers on our team, Cassie has a great read on opposing front lines and closes the block as well as anyone. Her quickness and energy set a positive tone on the court, and her consistency in putting kills to the floor will be counted on heavily.”
“Kayleigh returns with the knowledge and training to earn significant playing time,” said Condit. “Improvement in her foot speed, transition game and attacking power will add to the depth and effectiveness of Miami’s middle game. She has jumped to the next level in her game intelligence, relating to blocking schemes and transition attacking. There is no limit to Kayleigh’s potential.
“Chelsea is an intelligent, hard-working, competitive middle who loves to win,” continued Condit. “She is a quick study, and once she works through new challenges that the Division I game presents, she will be a Miami middle to contend with.”
“We are fortunate to have most of our outside hitters returning,” said Condit. “As a result, this position will show more experience and ability to put balls away. We’ve worked hard in creating versatility and hitter effectiveness at both attennas. This spring was their proving ground to be more creative and develop their power and finesse.”
Having five outside hitters return with significant experience will give Coach Condit options in setting up the RedHawk attack. Three of the team’s captains, including senior Amy Raseman (Barrington, Ill.) and senior Jenn Caylor (Dayton, Ohio) contribute on the outside.
“Amy is one of our key go-to hitters,” said Condit. “She is a left hander who has an arsenal of shots, is very deceptive and proved in the MAC Tournament last year that she wants that ball when it counts. Amy’s teammates will look to her for strength and leadership as both an attacker and a blocker on our frontline. Her hard work over the past four years has positioned Amy for a memorable fifth year.
“Jenn returns for her final season looking very strong in her game,” Condit continued. “She is one of our power hitters and has advanced her shot selection tremendously since last fall. Her aggressive outside hitter mentality is just what this team needs. She will be the leader in this area as we open the season. Jenn is also one of our top blockers, as she knows how to line up well, and is timely in her decision making. We look for Jenn to help in all six positions this season.”
Making a transition to more of an offensive role this season will be another team captain, junior Lisa Treadway (Dayton, Ohio).
“Lisa found herself in a variety of roles last year,” said Condit. “As a junior this year, she will be vying for playing time on the left side. She has a crafty attack, one of the strongest arms on the team and tremendous hand control. Lisa has the ability to take over a match at times despite her smaller stature. She is a determined competitor who knows how to score points and only accepts winning. We will count on Lisa to be a six rotation player due to her solid passing and defensive skills.”
“Christina will be counted on to log valuable time as a go-to hitter for the RedHawk offense,” said Condit. “She’s one of our quickest jumpers and has molded her technique to be more aggressive and effective for the team this fall. She’s had a productive preseason and has come a long way in her blocking over the past year. She will vie for a starting position and has the versatility to hit middle and right as well.
“Madison made good strides in her game this spring,” continued Condit. “She has developed a more explosive approach; she’s a good leaper and a strong left-handed attacker. She has been able to increase her range of shots and has worked very hard to improve as a blocker. One of the things I like about Madison is her ability to pass and dig balls in our backcourt. With continued hard work she has the potential to impact our team’s success.”
One person noticeably missing from the list of outside attackers is senior Colleen Loftus (Commerce Twp., Mich.). Unfortunately, Loftus suffered a significant knee injury during preseason practice that will cause her to miss the entire 2011 season.
“We lost a real competitor and warrior in Colleen,” said Condit. “She was one of our senior athletes who knew how to take the game to the next level and often carried our team with her attacking ability. She was our top passer in 2010 and aggressively played all six positions well. Colleen is someone who remains a big part of this team, and with her leadership and inspiration, will help our team move forward in a positive way.”
Coach Condit is a big preacher of the philosophy that “Defense Wins Championships”. She is impressed with all three contenders for the libero shirt and believes each could receive significant playing time in the back row. They are solid in both their passing and defensive game, which will drive the effectiveness of Miami’s transition offense.
Returning from last season for the RedHawks are redshirt sophomore Jackie Lang (Wexford, Pa.) and sophomore Madison Hardy (Louisville, Ky.). Both earned the libero shirt on multiple occasions in 2010.
“Jackie is a steady passer and very fine athlete with smooth skills,” said Condit. “She enjoys playing defense and is capable of making big plays. Her aggressive float serve adds a real punch to our game, and we look to Jackie for court leadership and consistency.”
“When you see Madison Hardy compete you think gutsy and pressure player,” Condit continued. “Madison is that type of player who wants the pressure and knows how to win the big games. With improvement in her passing and coverage game, she will be a complete libero.”
Joining the two veterans in the backcourt this season is freshman Tori Clifford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.). An All-American in the high school ranks, Coach Condit is excited for the potential that this 5-foot-3 libero brings.
“It took Tori only a week in the preseason to establish herself as a libero who can dig balls high and read very well,” said Condit. “She’s fast, aggressive and very confident in her game. I think she’ll emerge as a very fine passer on our court and will certainly challenge for the libero jersey. We are fortunate to have Tori on our roster!”
Miami has two players on the roster who will redshirt in 2011 to allow them to gain more experience. They are freshman outside hitter Sarah Chaney (Middletown, Ohio) and freshman middle hitter Jenny Ingle (Ludlow Falls, Ohio). At 6-foot-5, Ingle is the tallest female athlete in program history.
“Jenny and Sarah are two fine student-athletes who make the future bright for Miami volleyball,” said Condit. “They are excellent jumpers, talented athletes and exemplary students. Their redshirt semester will allow them to grow in every aspect of the game, while contributing in our daily practice environment. My assistants and I are fortunate to work with these two motivated student-athletes. They are coachable, open to change and eager to learn anything and everything. We look forward to having them both active for the fall of 2012!"
A challenging non-conference schedule has been put together by Coach Condit to help prepare the RedHawks for MAC competition. Miami will participate in four tournaments, including its annual Best Western Sycamore Inn Invitational where the RedHawks will welcome Florida Gulf Coast, Radford and Alabama A&M to Millett Hall. In addition, Miami will take on four-time defending national champion Penn State at the Pittsburgh Tournament and nationally-ranked Tulsa and North Carolina in the Tar Heel Classic.
“This year’s schedule provides an excellent mix of competition against teams that compete very hard,” said Condit. “They are each known to have good programs and solid coaching. We’re looking forward to the variety of challenges that so many teams are going to provide to us. Certainly the schedule is dotted with some higher RPI teams, and against those teams we know we have to play our best to create the upset and improve Miami’s RPI.”
The MAC will prove to be very competitive once again in 2011. Picked to finish second in the East Division in this year’s preseason poll, the RedHawks know of the importance of every match, because only the top eight teams will make this year’s conference qualifying tournament at the SPIRE Sports Complex in Geneva, Ohio.
“This year’s MAC race is going to be just as challenging and crazy as most MAC races have been the past decade,” said Condit. “With several teams losing many starters and a few teams having so many returning, things seem to be defining themselves as indicated by the preseason poll. But as the MAC has proven in the past, there are no easy matches and teams must be sharp every night.
Condit summed up her thoughts on the upcoming campaign with one final thought:
“We have an impressive RedHawk team chemistry this season. These student-athletes truly enjoy one another and love to compete. You can be sure there are strong emotional and competitive bonds among them that have them ready to go to war together to make 2011 a highly successful and memorable season!”