The women’s volleyball team emerged victorious in the battle of the Magic City as they defeated Florida International 3-0 Tuesday night at the Knight Sports Complex.
The match came on the heels of a semi-successful Florida State Tournament. The ‘Canes swept Jacksonville and handed Eastern Kentucky a 3-2 loss, but suffered a defeat at the hands of the host Seminoles Friday night, 3-1.
“We used [the loss to FSU] in the right way because we came back and had our best match against Jacksonville the following day, and topped that with an even better one tonight,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “We weren’t clicking on all cylinders, and we’re hungry to get better now. I think we’ve taken [the loss] in a good light and it’s just helping us to improve.”
In the first game against FIU, junior libero Jamie Grass had five digs and freshman setter Jill Robinson managed 14 assists. A Valeria Tipiana kill opened the match for the ‘Canes. When FIU started to battle back with a Julie Doan serve, Miami fought to regain the momentum and kept it for the rest of match. Freshman middle blocker Francheska Savage had a game-high four kills. It was all downhill for FIU after a Biz Tyson ace gave the ‘Canes a comfortable lead, and they came out on top 30-24.
The ‘Canes had a tougher time pulling out the victory in game two. FIU’s Adriana Fundora widened the Panthers’ lead to 6-2 before her team began making several crucial mistakes that yielded a few critical Hurricane points. A Robin Lewullis kill tied the game at 10. The ‘Canes took the lead after a Leyre Santaella Sante kill, but struggled to hold onto it for the duration of the game. The lead seesawed back and forth until a Tyson kill put the ‘Canes ahead 27-26. An FIU net violation, another Tyson shot, and a Lewullis kill iced the game for Miami, 30-28.
Robinson posted an impressive 25 assists, while Tipiana had the game-high 7 kills.
“We were doing pretty good in game one, and then we just got a little too comfortable,” Lantagne Welch said. “[But] we talked about that on the break and kicked it into gear for game three.”
The ‘Canes appeared to awake from their slumber as they cruised to a sizable lead early in the game. A combination of Santaella Sante and sophomore middle blocker Karla Johnson’s kills and blocks shut the Panther defense down to put the ‘Canes out in front 20-9. After a short time out FIU began to come roaring back but the ‘Canes wouldn’t have it for long. A save by Robinson (who had 37 assists) led to a Miami point, and another Tyson kill finished off UM’s cross-town rival 30-16.
“You know when it’s a perfect set, you can see the blocks your teammates are dropping to you and it’s the best feeling in the world ’cause you know you’re going to kill it,” Tyson said. “And when you do it’s just great-you celebrate with your team and it’s an awesome feeling.”
Robinson finished the match with 37 assists. Santaella Sante and Tipiana tied with 10 kills and 24 total attacks each, and Grass added 13 digs. Lewullis had the team-high attacking percentage (.400). Tipiana and Tyson each totaled two service aces.
“I felt really confident tonight in our team; FIU’s always a big rival for us and we were really excited,” Tyson said. “It’s just a lot of fun to come out here and play your best.”
“FIU always battles us and they’re never going to go away,” Lantagne said. “It really all started with our passing…I thought Jill [Robinson] set the best match of her career.”
The match was a big boost for Robinson’s young career.
“I was really pumped up the whole time…our whole team was,” Robinson said. “It was fun to play during the game. It’s just a big adrenaline rush.”
The Hurricanes continue Big East play tomorrow at Seton Hall and Sunday at Rutgers.
Melissa Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org