When the Canes lost to the fourth-seeded Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament, the mood among the young women of Miami’s volleyball team was predictably somber at first.
This feeling, however, soon gave way to a sense of accomplishment, after the players and coaches looked back at what had been a strong 2011 campaign.
“At first I think everyone kind of looked at it as a disappointment, because we had such a good team and we thought we could’ve made it further into the tournament,” sophomore Alex Johnson said. “But overall if you look at it, it’s a success, because we had 20-plus wins, we made it to the second round of the tournament and we were second in the ACC.”
The team, led by coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, now entering her 12th season at the helm of the program, put together impressive streaks of 10 and 9 consecutive victories, and was ranked 20th at one point, en route to a 26-5 record (16-4 ACC).
“We had a heck of a year and we did a lot of great things and we beat a lot of great teams,” Lantagne Welch said. “I mean, we beat one team that was in the Final Four. We beat two of the teams that were in the Elite Eight. That shows how strong of a program we were.”
A lot of the Canes’ success was directly related to the phenomenal play of a heralded senior class that included Ali Becker, Lane Carico and Katie Gallagher.
Carico added to her already stellar resume. The California native led the team in kills (403) and points (453) while earning a number of prestigious awards and accolades.
She was named ACC Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was voted to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Second Team and received the 2012 Evelyn Schwartz Award presented yearly to the university’s student-athlete who best demonstrates outstanding leadership and character.
Lantagne Welch seems to have identified the root of Carico’s immense success.
“Lane has been one of the hardest workers in the gym for the last four years, she has natural athletic ability and she had a lot of volleyball experience,” she said. “But she wanted to be really good and she worked to be really good.
“And that kind of desire and effort in terms of getting better every day … it showed in her play.”
And while Carico and her standout teammates Becker and Gallagher will be sorely missed, there is also no doubt that the future for Miami is promising.
“The whole idea is to reload instead of rebuild,” Lantagne Welch said. “We have high hopes for the young players in our program and we have confidence that they’ll be ready to step in.”
Contributing Sports Writer
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