It came down to the last set.
American Volleyball Coaches Association’s No. 5 ranked Florida State University (15-0) needed all five sets to take down the Hurricanes (9-6) at the Knight Sports Complex, despite the momentum from a 3-1 home victory Friday against Clemson.
“It’s not about the opponent,” said Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara. “It’s about us and how we prepare. We had a good day yesterday and did a good job preparing. Florida State just made a few more plays.”
One thing Florida State could not prepare for was the firepower of Senior Class Award candidate Savanah Leaf, who tied a team record with 30 kills, but remained humble.
“I just feel like I need to reduce my errors – I wasn’t really too worried about how many kills I had,” said Leaf after the game. “I’m happy with my intensity, but there’s some things I have to work on.”
The Hurricanes cruised to another home win Friday, notching their seventh home triumph of the season. California natives Savanah Leaf and Kelsie Groot led the way – combining for 32 kills.
Coming off earning ACC Freshman of the Week, setter Haley Templeton served up 44 assists, pushing her past the 400-mark on the season.
Friday, the in-state top-ranked ACC rival Florida State marched into the Knight Sports Complex to find a deafening crowd of parents, students and the Band of the Hour, all breaking the sound barrier with their roars.
The Seminoles jumped ahead to an early 4-1 lead, which grew to 18-12 – but the Hurricanes never let go.
After exchanging point after point, Miami shocked FSU and took the first set 28-26. Both teams struggled offensively in the first set, neither topping the .104 attack percentage mark.
In the second set, the Seminoles regained their composure and won 25-19, despite close exchanges early on. Savanah Leaf had 16 kills through the first two, and Templeton added 20 assists.
The third set was similar to the first, but the Hurricanes came up short in the end. Neither team hit over .250, and both suffered six errors – including four from Leaf.
However, the game’s leading attacker and the rest of her teammates bounced back in the fourth set, clawing at an FSU lead that reached as many as seven. The crowd backed the Canes with harmonious cheer as they snatched a 29-27 victory.
And then it all came down to one set – a conclusive race to 15.
Coach Gandara relied heavily on five different freshmen to pull off the upset: Haley Templeton, Sakile Simmons, Brooke McDermott, Michele Marenus and Sylvia Hernandez.
“It’s all about confidence,” he said. “They’re all good volleyball players, and they all did a good job.”
However, some early errors by these freshmen forfeited the momentum from the fourth set success, and the Seminoles climbed to 15 after a block on a spike from Leaf.
“It was great to be able to compete against someone ranked so high in the nation,” said Templeton. “We did well against them. I was happy.”
The Hurricanes will look to take what they learned from this loss and bring it with them to Syracuse, where they will continue ACC play against the Orange at 7 p.m. Friday.