Head Coach Nicole Lantagne guided a young Miami team to a 17-7 overall record last season in the University’s first year of volleyball since 1981. UM finished the season on an 11-match win streak and compiled a 13-1 home record at the Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables.
First Serve, First Kill, First Win
Miami Freshman Jamie Grass had the first serve for Miami volleyball in 20 years as the Hurricanes took on the Davidson (N.C.) Wildcats in the Davidson Tournament on August 31. Senior Kristi Sprinkel had the distinction of recording the first kill for Miami. The Hurricanes took Davidson, the two-time defending Southern Conference champions, to five games but lost 3-2.
Nicole Lantagne recorded her first head coaching victory in the Hurricanes second match of the season as UM swept Coastal Carolina, 3-0, on September 1.
“It was extremely important to get this first win under our belts,” Lantagne said. “I am proud of this group, both in their performance last night and their effort today. We were so composed and came back in so many games. It has been a great effort from a young group.”
Miami celebrated the return of volleyball to the UM campus with a ceremonial ‘First Serve’. University of Miami President Donna Shalala, Athletic Director Paul Dee and Head Volleyball Coach Nicole Lantagne joined former UM volleyball players on the court for the serve on September 7.
Miami rewarded its home crowd with two wins at the Knight Sports Complex. UM swept Long Island, 3-0, in the first match and defeated Wofford, 3-0, in the second match to advance to the title match against UAB. Although Miami appeared to have the match in hand early after winning the first two games, UAB rallied to win the final three and hand UM its first home loss. Miami wouldn’t lose another home match the rest of the season as it compiled a 13-1 record in Coral Gables.
Miami suffered a 3-0 loss to Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton on September 18. FAU was the first of 11 in-state opponents the Hurricanes faced in 2001. UM would go 7-4 in those matches.
The middle of the season was marked by a three-match win streak followed by a three-match losing skid.
The Team Gels
The Hurricanes returned to Coral Gables to defeat Tulsa, 3-0, on October 11.
“I thought we played a great match tonight,” Lantagne said. “We’ve really worked hard this week in practice and the things we worked on were reflected in our performance. It was great to see a complete team effort.”
The win over Tulsa marked the beginning of an 11-match win streak for Miami. The Hurricanes won 33 of 38 games during that span.
Playing as an independent, Miami defeated both Big East teams it faced (St. John’s, 3-0 and Pittsburgh, 3-1) during the 2001 season. UM joins conference play this season.
Miami hosted Florida Atlantic on November 6 in the last home match of the season. In front of a loud and energetic crowd, the Hurricanes won 3-1. The win avenged an early season loss to the Owls and served notice that a volleyball power was rising in South Florida.
“It was everything I could hope for,” senior middle blocker Kristi Sprinkel said. “It was a great match and we played hard.”
Said Lantagne: “We had to play our best to win this match. This has been an incredible year. We’ve really overachieved and we’re just going to get better from here. These young players have worked hard and delivered throughout the season.”