The Hurricanes officially began their volleyball season on Friday night, defeating the Florida A&M Lady Rattlers 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-18).
Preseason All-ACC juniors Olga Strantzali and Haley Templeton helped lead the team to a dominant victory in their opening game. On a team without any seniors, these two have stepped into the roles of team leaders. Outside hitter Strantzali converted 16 kills while setter Templeton finished with 32 assists and a match clinching block.
“We’re good enough to win and do something special [this season],” Strantzali said after the game. “It’s good to start with a win because now the team will have more confidence in the next game.”
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the game belonged to sophomore outside hitter Anna Haak. Haak went on to finish with 16 kills and seven digs with a hitting percentage of .375 to round out her stat line.
While Haak may have excelled in the opener, her collegiate career did not necessarily start out as smooth as her performance against the Rattlers.
“The coaches definitely helped me improve, and teammates have helped me a lot along the way,” the Swedish native said. “I’m so happy about struggling all of last fall but managing to get better and bounce back from that tough time.”
Miami began the first set in a tight battle with Florida A&M, but then scored seven straight points, featuring two Haak kills and a Templeton ace, giving the team a 14-7 lead. They never looked back, winning the first set 25-12.
The following sets were more competitive, but the Canes were always in control. They won the next two sets 25-19 and 25-18 to secure the victory. Miami did not trail Florida A&M at any point in the match.
“I liked the focus. I thought we did the things we wanted to do,” Head Coach Jose Gandara, now entering his fourth season with the Hurricanes, said. “We have a bunch of players that are playing well and that are making my job a lot less difficult.”
The Hurricanes are back in action versus FIU at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and again against Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m. at home.