DigNittany Preview: Miami University (No “OH” Required)

If, like DigNittanyVolleyball, you aren’t overly familiar with Miami University, you may have an “Ahhh” revelatory moment, as we did, when you visit its Athletic Department Website. To our surprise (and chagrin — are we the only people on earth who didn’t know this?) the school’s official name is simply “Miami University” — no bracketed “OH” or “of Ohio” tacked on at the end. Those convenient geographic identifiers are courtesy of the press, apparently to distinguish the school from that other “Miami” school, located in steamy (to us at least) south Florida.

For the record, Miami University’s athletic teams are nicknamed the “RedHawks” — no space, thankyou. Perhaps that’s to distinguish the Miami RedHawks from the Montclair State University “Red Hawks,” (although that risks confusion with two minor league baseball teams — the Oklahoma City RedHawks and the Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks).

But we digress. Naming conventions aside, the Penn State Women’s Volleyball Team opens its 2009 season against Miami University on August 28th in the Active Ankle Invitational. Here’s a quick preview of the match:

Time and Place: August 28, 2009, 5:00 p.m. CT at Chaifetz Arena. This facility opened in April 2008, so it’s still shiny and new. Seats 10,600 (plus VIP suites).

Media Coverage: The match will be available on GameTracker.

No Match Last Year, But . . .

Miami didn’t play Penn State last year, but it did play Wisconsin and Purdue. The RedHawks managed a split in those two matches, with a 3-1 upset of then- #10 Wisconsin on September 6, 2008 at the UNLV Tournament, followed by a 3-0 loss to 20th-ranked Purdue (11-1 at the time) on September 20, 2008.

For Nittany Lion fans who are inclined to take Miami lightly, the RedHawks hosted Ohio State, Illinois and Marshall in early April for the Miami Spring Tournament. Miami played each team in three sets with the winner being the first to 25 points. The RedHawks defeated both Ohio State (2-1) and Marshall (2-1) and, according to the RedHawk press release, played the 2008 Sweet 16 participant Fighting Illini “very tough.”

The Skinny: Miami University

Miami went 21-11 in 2008, including a 12-4 record in the MAC Conference, earning an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, where it lost 3-2 in the first round to Middle Tennessee State.

The RedHawks return five starters from the 2008 team: Megan Griffin (6-0 Sr. OH/MH), Maria Leahy (5-9 Sr. OH), Michele Metzler (6-1 Jr. MH), Hallie Hanks (6-0 Sr. OH/MH), and Andrea Atteberry (5-10 Sr. S), plus five other letterwinners, including Cassie Farrell (6-0 So. MH). Key losses for the RedHawks include Melissa Zenz (5-8 L) and Emily Schroeder (5-11 OH/MH). New to the team are Freshmen Amy Kendall (6-1 S), Jackie Lang (5-10 L), Christina Menche (5-11 OH), and Lisa Treadway (5-10 L).

The Skinny: Penn State

This will be the opening match of the 2009 Season for the Nittany Lions. They’ll be favored, as they should be, but if they take the RedHawks lightly, they could be in for a surprise.

Here’s Penn State’s 2009 Roster.

The Coaches

Miami University: The RedHawks are coached by Carolyn Condit, who has led Miami to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and is in her 26th season as Head Coach. When she recently signed a contract extension through the 2012-2013 season, Miami’s Athletic Director Brad Bates offered this praise: “She graduates her students, wins championships, serves our community and develops leaders of exceptional quality.” We’d guess she has pretty good job security.

Penn State: Russ Rose begins his 31st year as Penn State’s Head Coach. He has been named the AVCA National Coach of the Year four times — 1990, 1997, 2007 and 2008 (more than any other Division I coach) — is a member of the AVCA Hall of Fame, and is one of only three coaches in the history of NCAA Division I women’s volleyball to win over 900 matches.

The Mascots

Penn State: The Nittany Lion

Here’s the Nittany Lion dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller:

Miami University: “Swoop” — the RedHawk

If “Swoop” — the Miami University mascot — is any indication, Penn State should be very concerned. As this video shows, Swoop has been training hard, and is one lean, mean, fighting . . . RedHawk:

We admit it: Swoop is a very impressive RedHawk. But we’re still going with the Nittany Lion. He’s agile, he’s smooth. He’s, well, unflappable. Sorry Swoop.