The Hurricanes kicked off its quest for a national championship in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Iowa State in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed in three sets by the Cyclones. The Canes weren’t at their best and the team ran into an Iowa State squad that was firing on all cylinders throughout the match.
The first set was closely contested, and was tied 12-12 midway through. However, right before the first media timeout the Cyclones scored three crucial points to put Iowa State out in front 15-12. Led by freshman outside hitter Anna Haak and senior middle blocker Alexis Mourning, the Canes battled back multiple times in the opening set but was never able to take full advantage of the opportunities, as the Cyclones took the first set 25-21.
The Canes (21-10) came out determined in the second set, but the Cyclones matched the intensity in what was another competitive set. Miami’s strong performance forced Iowa State to call a timeout down 13-10. The set got all the way to a 24-24 tie before Iowa State rallied to score the last two points in what was a devastating blow to Miami’s chances.
The Canes showed a great amount of resilience in the final set and took an 11-10 lead on the Cyclones at one point, but in the end the team just ran out of gas. Fatigue set in and Iowa State (19-10) was able to take control of the third set after a timeout. Iowa State closed out the match with a third set victory by the score of 25-20.
It was certainly a tough way to go out for the seniors, but the Canes have a very bright future. The roster is full of young talent, including Haak who recorded a team-high 11 kills in her first NCAA match.
This was Miami’s third straight NCAA Tournament bid under Head Coach Jose Gandara and seventh consecutive tournament berth overall.