This could be the blueprint of a new conference rivalry.
The Hurricanes’ volleyball squad (14-7, 7-3) will take on the Louisville Cardinals (14-9, 6-5) for the first time since they joined the ACC in July.
The two teams played two years ago in the Louisville Tournament, and the Cardinals took the match in four sets. Emani Sims led the Canes with 15 kills. Meanwhile, Hurricanes current assist leader Haley Templeton was still in high school.
Templeton will enter this game fresh off earning her third ACC Freshman of the Week award. She recorded 35 assists in a sweep of North Carolina State last Sunday, bringing her season total to 783. The Georgia native ranks second in the ACC with almost 11 assists per set.
Her most frequent receiver, Savanah Leaf, is returning home for the first time since being named a finalist for the Senior Class Award. Leaf has 358 kills this year and places first in the ACC in kills per set.
On the other hand, the Cardinals will walk into the Knight Sports Complex Friday with a chip on their shoulders. They lost to Virginia in five sets – the limit – Sunday.
The red and black will be led by Janelle Jenkins, Maya McClendon and Tess Clark, who all have more than 200 kills this season. The Canes will have to watch out for six-foot-three-inch Clark, who is flirting with the same heights as some of the massive Florida State players against whom Miami had a disadvantage.
The distribution to Clark and the rest of this deep attack will be dictated by junior Katie George, who has served up more than 900 assists this season.
This matchup has the makings of a new yearly ACC showdown, and it all starts 7 p.m. Friday at the Knight.