The University of Miami volleyball team is off to its best start since 2002, when the Hurricanes opened up the season 15-0. This weekend the Hurricanes improved to 7-0, defeating South Dakota State, Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth in the eighth annual Hurricane Invitational at the Knights Sports Complex.
Sophomore sensation Katie Gallagher continued to orchestrate the offense, and for her efforts she was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Gallagher showed her tremendous athleticism and versatility by averaging over five kills, eight digs and just under 35 assists per match.
“With Katie, the sky is the limit,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “She is really coming into her own as a setter. She attacked very effectively. She drew some of the attention towards her and that made all the hitters really effective.”
Freshmen outside-hitter Lane Carico and middle blocker Ali Becker were named to the All-Tournament Team. Carico averaged just under 12 points per match. Her powerful hits were a major force during the tournament, as opponents were left unable to respond to her power plays. Becker provided a spark as she posted six or more kills in every match.
“Our freshmen have come in ready to play and ready to make a difference on the court,” Lantagne Welch said.
The Hurricanes opened up the tournament Thursday night against South Dakota State, a team that made the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time in school history. The Hurricanes swept the Jackrabbits 3-0 as junior outside hitter Genny Mayhew recorded her third double-double in kills and digs. Junior libero Cassie Loessberg chipped in with nine digs.
The Canes played a double header Saturday. On Saturday morning they faced Alabama. After dropping the opening set against the Crimson Tide, Miami battled back from adversity and won the next three sets to take the match 3-1. Last year the Hurricanes won just three times after dropping the first set. This year, the Canes capitalized on their first opportunity.
The Canes capped off a terrific weekend by sweeping the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams 3-0 on Saturday evening. Carico led the way for the Hurricanes, tallying nine digs, nine kills and an impressive five service aces.
Miami has now swept five of their first seven opponents. The Hurricanes travel across the country to California to participate in the San Francisco Tournament beginning Friday. Four of the 13 players on the roster are from California and all are excited to go back to their roots.