AUBURN, ALABAMA — The Miami University volleyball team became the Auburn Invitational champions with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-15) victory over Memphis on Saturday. It was the fifth victory in a row for the RedHawks, who improve to 6-4 on the season. The Tigers fall to 5-4.
Senior outside hitter Maris Below was named the Auburn Invitational Tournament MVP. She finished the weekend with 36 kills, an average of 3.27 per match. That included a career-high tying 18 kills in the five-set win over the host Auburn. She hit .248 for the weekend and also had 37 digs (3.36 per set) and six blocks (four solo and two assisted).
Joining Below on the All-Tournament Team were junior right side hitter Katie Tomasic and junior libero Maeve McDonald. Tomasic finished with 31 kills, an average of 2.82 per set. She hit .338 for the week. McDonald led the Miami defense with 53 digs, an average of 4.82 per set. McDonald and the RedHawk defense held opponents to a .169 attack percentage in three matches.
“It was important to win this final match in three sets and claim the championship,” said head coach Carolyn Condit. “In doing this the team proved they can execute well through fatigue as they end three back-to-back travel weekends versus many worthy opponents. As coaches we are very proud of their preparation, teamwork and execution.”
In Saturday’s match, Below and Tomasic were joined for the team lead by senior middle Paige Hill, as each finished with 10 kills. Hill made only one errors in 17 attempts for an attack percentage of .529. Both setters recorded double-doubles as sophomore Mackenzie Zielinski finished with 18 assists and 15 digs, while senior Krista Brakauskas had 16 assists and 11 digs.
Memphis jumped to a 6-3 lead to begin set one. Below and junior middle hitter Meredith Stutz each had two kills to help Miami tie the score at eight. Tied at 15, three more kills from Below along with a solo block by the senior started a 6-2 run that put the RedHawks in control at 21-17. The Tigers got as close as two points, but kills from junior outside hitter Olivia Rusek and Hill finished off a 25-22 victory.
Below recorded six kills and a block in set one.
Miami started slowly in set two as Memphis built a 10-7 advantage. Tomasic took over from there putting down three kills to start another long Miami run. Below and sophomore outside hitter Stela Kukoc each had a kill, while Below recorded two service aces as part of a 13-2 run that made it 20-12 in favor of the ‘Hawks. MU was able to cruise from there as two final kills from Hill completed a 25-18 win.
Trailing 6-8 in set three, the RedHawks offense took over to put the match away. Hill recorded three kills to help Miami push the lead to 14-10. Below put down two more to give the Red and White match point at 24-13. Memphis scored the next two, but a kill by Tomasic finished off a 25-15 victory and gave Miami a 3-0 win in the match.
Rusek finished with seven kills, while Stutz and Kukoc each had five. McDonald nearly had a double-double with nine assists and 11 digs. As a team, Miami hit .238, while holding Memphis to a .118 attack percentage.