In front of an electric crowd at the Knight Sports Complex, senior outside hitter Olga Strantzali set a University of Miami record with 33 kills to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals Oct. 20.
The Hurricanes (12-3, 6-3 ACC) had lost to the Cardinals earlier in the season. This time, they got their revenge.
Strantzali broke the previous record for most kills in a match set by Savanah Leaf, who had 31 against UCF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament back in 2014. Strantzali, a native of Greece, had never had more than 30 kills in a match. But on Friday night, she was just in a special groove.
“Everything worked tonight,” she said after the game. “I started the first set, and I felt good and knew I was going to have a good night. My teammates helped me a lot. We passed well – Haley Templeton was awesome, today and they made my job a little easier.”
Despite breaking the record, Strantzali made sure to keep her priorities in line.
“Honestly nothing,” she said when asked what the record meant to her. “I’m just excited that I have it, but we beat Louisville and that was the most important thing today.”
Strantzali got help from junior outside hitter Kolby Bird and redshirt junior setter Haley Templeton, who was named the ACC Player of the Week Oct. 16. Bird added 13 kills and Templeton posted a match-high 50 assists as well as five digs and a block on defense.
The Canes came out strong in the first set and stayed consistent. They never led by more than five points but did just enough to win the set 25-21.
Miami struggled early in the second, falling behind 8-2. It cut the Louisville (13-6, 7-2 ACC) lead to just one but was never able to take charge and lost the second set 25-21.
The third set became the pivotal one of the match. Louisville never led but had a chance to steal late.
The Hurricanes led 24-21, needing just one point to close. But the Cardinals would not go away quietly, scoring three-straight points to tie it up. That’s when Strantzali pulled through with a kill, and the Canes benefitted from a Cardinals’ attack error to win the third set 26-24.
“It’s so awesome playing at home in front of everyone supporting us,” Bird said. “I think there is a different energy playing at home that makes us want to play for our fans and that energy helps so much.”
After winning such an emotional third set, Miami had no trouble closing the match out in the fourth. Leading by as many as 12 points, UM would win the match on Strantzali’s 33rd and final kill, which cemented her place in Hurricanes history.
Miami wore pink jerseys in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Hurricanes will look for their fourth-straight win in a face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 back at the Knight Sports Complex.