Volleyball earns much-needed victory

The women’s volleyball team came up large against Central Florida Tuesday night during their only game of the season at the Convocation Center.
Miami (20-7, 7-2 in the Big East) pulled off a 3-1 win to get the team back in a groove following its loss to conference rival Pittsburgh last Sunday. UCF falls to 18-5, remaining undefeated in the Atlantic Sun Conference (8-0).
The home venue of the Convocation Center was unusual for the Hurricanes, but the lighting and ample room appeared to have a positive effect.
“It was different,” said sophomore middle blocker Karla Johnson. “I feel more comfortable in the [Knight] Sports Complex, but both of them are home.”
Leyre Santaella Sante led Miami with 19 kills. Johnson had five total blocks, including two solos, while Francheska Savage added three blocks and Robin Lewullis had a pair of solo blocks. Biz Tyson topped the ‘Canes in digs (17) and service aces (2). Jill Robinson recorded a game-high 45 assists.
In game one, Santaella Sante seemed to be getting satisfaction out of coming out on top against her former Knight teammates early in the match. She had a service ace following a kill to keep the ‘Canes ahead. She was able to tip the ball over for the 30-21 win.
“I think it’s a hard thing to play against teammates and great friends, and she was in a difficult situation,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “I think she put it all aside and came out here in another match for Miami volleyball and did a great job for us.”
Game two saw UM break away with a strong performance, including a Kaitlin Kozak dig that set up the 30-16 victory.
UCF had the edge in the third game, preventing a sweep with a 30-28 win.
“We kind of let up in the third game, but we tried to come out strong in the fourth game,” Johnson said.
Both teams showed their hunger during the fourth game. UCF’s Lindsey Whalen kept the Knights on top early on. A Savage block for the Hurricanes followed by a Lewullis kill tied the score at 13. The lead bounced back and forth between the two teams for the duration of the game. Two key points by Robinson, Savage, and Johnson set up the 30-28 Hurricane victory.
“We’ve been working on getting our middles in quicker…we have had tremendous success with [Johnson] and [Savage] putting those balls away,” Lantagne Welch said. “The keys are timing and running as quick as possible and having them go up high and kill those balls.”
Lantagne Welch was also impressed with Lewullis’s performance. The whole team could agree that getting a win was of utmost importance for the ‘Canes.
“We started out very solid and played great,” Lantagne Welch said. “I think we got a little tentative, a little comfortable, and got them back in it. We didn’t finish as strongly as we could, but we finished, so we’ll take it.”
Miami continues conference play tonight at Syracuse and Sunday at Notre Dame.
“Hopefully we can just take the momentum we have from this game and just keep going,” Johnson said.
Melissa Teich can be reached at melissateich@hotmail.com.