Another successful weekend in the Big East has brought the Hurricanes (15-4, 5-0 in conference play) two steps closer to where they want to be. They swept Georgetown (6-13, 1-4) on Friday and Villanova (5-13, 2-4) on Sunday at the Knight Sports Complex.
The ‘Canes extended their win streak to seven matches, while they remain undefeated in the last nine home conference matches.
Senior outside hitter Leyre Santaella Sante finished with 16 kills and a career-high eight digs against Georgetown. Junior outside hitter Valeria Tipiana added 13 kills and 10 digs on Friday as well.
Against Villanova, the ‘Canes made it look easy, posting a total of 52 kills, 45 assists, and 45 digs. They also aced four serves and added six blocks. Santaella Sante led the team with 15 kills and 24 total attacks, while freshman setter Jill Robinson had 24 assists. Robinson and libero Jamie Grass each pulled 11 digs. Santaella Sante, Tipiana, and Biz Tyson each added a service ace.
Miami ran away with game one, a mix of a ferocious offense and one-too-many mistakes by a shaky Villanova team. A block by Wildcats Katie Lanting and Megan Bye made for a short glimpse of hope that proved to be inadequate, and the ‘Canes pulled ahead 30-12. Santaella Sante had five digs and eight total attacks during the game. Robinson posted six digs to start the match.
‘Nova pulled out in front to start the second game, which yo-yoed between tie scores and one-point leads for the first 14 points. The ‘Canes looked very cohesive from that point on. Sophomore middle blocker Karla Johnson got them back on the right foot with a kill that widened the gap to 15-7. The Wildcats attempted to stage a quick comeback but Miami put an end to them as a Francheska Savage kill helped the Hurricanes up by nine, and they continued to a 30-17 victory.
A one-handed diving dig by Mallorey James turbocharged the ‘Canes’ momentum, putting them ahead 13-7. A collection of Villanova double hit violations prevented the Wildcats from reaching a fourth game. Two Tyson kills crushed ‘Nova’s last hopes, and a Tipiana shot finished it 30-22.
“Just about everything worked,” said Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “We hit over 400, which is outstanding.”
The return of Mallorey James after being out for several weeks with a foot injury proved to be positive.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Santaella Sante. “She’s a great setter, teammate, and great for the team.”
“It’s great to have her back,” added Lantagne Welch.
Although her numbers may not the highest, Tyson’s impact was far-reaching in crucial kills made.
“Biz did a really great job,” said Santaella Sante. “If we get her to play like that every day, no one could ever beat Miami.”
UM faces South Florida in Tampa tonight at 7:00. Defeating the Bulls in Coral Gables was a crucial victory last season, according to Lantagne Welch.
Miami returns to Big East play at UConn on Saturday, October 25.
Melissa Teich can be reached at email@example.com