The women’s volleyball team pulled out a much-needed 3-0 victory against non-conference opponent Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton Wednesday night. The Hurricanes’ win over the Owls was important for morale after a disappointing loss to Connecticut on Saturday.
Red shirt freshman middle blocker Francheska Savage initially had some trouble getting kills, but the hostile crowd’s heckling appeared to be her inspiration as she was able to swing the momentum in UM’s favor with a pivotal kill off a Leyre Santaella Sante serve. Santaella Sante finished the match with 18 kills. The Hurricanes hit their usual mid-game rough spot, and just as typically caught themselves and took off from there, finishing the game off at 30-18.
After a shaky start to the second game, a Karla Johnson block pushed Miami ahead 7-4. Johnson and Robin Lewullis led the ‘Canes with four blocks each.
Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Tyson was able to push the ball at a perfect angle to send it over the net for a Hurricane point. A Johnson kill on the ensuing point put UM on top 14-9. A rollover dig by sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlin Kozak couldn’t be salvaged as FAU’s blocking wall took care of two points in a row, closing in on the ‘Canes’ 15-12 lead.
Johnson and Tyson each contributed two service aces, while Kozak led the team with 11 digs.
An uncharacteristically high number of net violations and errors put FAU within striking distance late in the game as the score reached 26-22. UM clinched the 30-25 win with a rollover last-second dig by junior libero Jamie Grass.
In game three, FAU began with a steady lead, which held up until a Tyson kill tied the score at six apiece. Santaella Sante gave the ‘Canes their first lead of the game at 9-8. The teams flip-flopped leads, remaining close throughout the middle of the game. A Tyson kill broke the game open and the Hurricanes were able to cruise to a 30-23 win.
“It was nice to see our outside put more balls away…it was a little sloppy out there,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “But any time you win in three you take the win and go home.”
Junior setter Mallory James led the Hurricanes with 41 assists.
“We played well enough to win, but I don’t think we played the best we could have to win,” James said. “We’re not looking too far ahead in the future, we’re just looking ahead to our next match…and forget about all the stuff that’s happened in the past.”
The team was without outside hitter Valeria Tipiana once again, but Lantagne Welch said that she should return for next week’s action.
The Hurricanes finished with eight team blocks, 51 kills, 113 total attacks, 47 assists, six service aces, and 41 digs.
With the win the ‘Canes improve to 18-6 overall with a 6-1 record in the Big East. Florida Atlantic drops to 11-11 with a 5-1 mark in Atlantic Sun Conference play. UM is now 14-9 against opponents from Florida.
The Hurricanes take on Big East opponents West Virginia and Pittsburgh this weekend on Friday and Sunday in the Knight Sports Complex.
Melissa Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
COACH: status on Tipiana?