Volleyball team falls to Northwestern

Northwestern (7-2) snapped Miami’s 10-game home win streak Friday night during the Orange and Green Challenge at the Knight Sports Complex, finishing off the Hurricanes 3-1. The ‘Canes (7-3) had success in their other matches, however, sweeping both George Mason on Thursday and Columbia on Friday morning.
Junior Valeria Tipiana totaled 38 kills and 25 digs at the Challenge.
In the first game, the Wildcats appeared to be handling the Hurricanes with a sizable early lead. But a Leyre Santaella Sante ace, coupled with a blocking wall comprised of Santaella Sante, Robin Lewullis, and Karla Johnson, put them back on track. They pulled ahead, holding a comfortable lead for the duration of the game, winning 30-25.
Northwestern started off strong again in the second game but was able to keep its lead this time, holding on for a 30-28 victory.
“You know we played a great first game and we started out fine,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “In game two I think Northwestern picked up their side and we didn’t respond…our passing broke down and we let them back in it. We fought near the end of that game but it was too little too late and it changed the course of the match.”
Throughout the rest of the match, the ‘Canes’ short-lived momentum gains came after they were able to regroup during three one-minute time out periods. But the ‘Cats kept crawling back, led by senior outside hitter Iwona Lodzik and senior middle blocker All-American candidate Erika Lange.
“Volleyball is a huge game of momentum and we didn’t seize the moment enough…and just take every bit of that energy that we could,” Lantagne Welch said.
Junior Biz Tyson kept the ‘Canes in the third game, allowing Tipiana and Lewullis to take over. A Hurricane comeback looked promising after a couple of intense points mid-game, but the ‘Canes were distracted by two delayed referee calls that they deemed controversial. They couldn’t hang on, losing 30-28.
Down 16-11 in the fourth game, Tyson followed up a pivotal kill with an ace. Freshmen Jill Robinson and Francheska Savage took turns putting points on the board for the Hurricanes, and a Jamie Grass dig tied the score at 25. Northwestern’s Leah Delcourt’s block and a Lodzik kill proved to be too much for the ‘Canes, and the Wildcats pulled out the 30-26 victory.
Lewullis had 14 kills and nine blocks on the night.
“I think we played well, but we couldn’t find a way in the end of the game,” Lewullis said. “It’s really disappointing when you have a good game and you just want to carry your team.”
“We had an incredible match out of Robin Lewullis…we needed to jump on her shoulders and go with her,” Lantagne Welch said.
The Hurricanes resume play Friday in Tallahassee against Eastern Kentucky.
Melissa Teich can be reached at melissateich@hotmail.com.