The South Florida Bulls came into the Knight Sports Complex Monday Night a confident team that had beaten ranked opponents and played No. 8 Pepperdine very tough. They were completely unprepared for the Hurricane that was about to run over them in the form of the women’s volleyball team.
The ‘Canes, who were sitting at 17-2 and first place in the Big East, were not expected to beat a very good South Florida program who had been receiving votes to be ranked in the national polls. However, the ‘Canes got maybe their biggest victory of the season when they beat South Florida 3-1.
“It was a huge victory for us. We beat a team that is first in their region and undefeated in Conference USA…South Florida has been receiving votes in the top 25 poll. They have done a lot,” said head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch.
The ‘Canes had the daunting task of dealing with Bulls outside hitter Michelle Collier, who had a team leading 30 kills and 16 digs. However, the ‘Canes had the answer for her all day. Miami spread the ball around, with four players recording double digit kills. Valeria Tipiana and Elizabeth Tyson led the way with 17 kills apiece, while team leader Marcela Gamarra had 15.
“Marcela being third in kills shows our team is growing. It takes the pressure off Marcela and gives us a lot more balance,” said Lantagne Welch.
The ‘Canes sit in first place in the Big East conference, but still have some tough games ahead, including a meeting with Notre Dame. This may have been the biggest victory of the season, but the ‘Canes know that they still have a lot of important games ahead.
“Notre Dame will be a really big test. All the Big East games will be very tough,” said Jamie Grass, who had a team leading 12 digs in the match.
Grass has made the transition from hitter to defensive specialist nicely.
More than anything, this victory showed that the Hurricanes can compete with top teams and win. Despite being first in the Big East, the ‘Canes have not been ranked in the top 25, and they were thought to be a team that would struggle against top programs. They proved that they could beat a good team on Monday.
“This victory shows everyone we are a really good team and that we can compete with the best,” said Grass.
The victory gives the Canes some momentum going into the home stretch of Big East conference play. The team was coming off a bad loss to FIU, and it was important for them to bounce back. Miami showed resilience on Monday with the impressing victory.
“This win was a great confidence builder. I hope we can take this win and build from it, against Virginia Tech on Saturday,” said Lantagne Welch.
If the Canes can keep rising to the occasion in big games, they will retain their No. 1 seed in the Big East conference and have a great chance to celebrate a conference championship and an invite to the NCAA Tournament in November.
You can reach Darren Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org.