Volleyball looks strong in sweeping Wake Forest

Miami (6-4, 2-1 ACC) performed in dominant fashion, capitalizing from effective serving and defense, to down Wake Forest in three games (30-24, 30-20, 30-19) Friday at the Knight Sports Complex.

The dominant theme of the night was balance. Three players had double-digit kills and combined for a kill percentage of .502. Overall, the ‘Canes hit .381 during the three-game match.

“We wanted to run a balanced attack. The hitters’ digging and passing was good enough to allow us to do that,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said.

During the first game, Miami never lost a lead. Wake Forest put up some rallies to get within a point of the Hurricanes, but a momentum shift later in the game led to a game point for the Hurricanes at 29-23. After a side-out, senior Valeria Tipiana put away game one with a cross-court kill.

Game two saw Wake Forest take an early lead, fall behind, and later tie the match at 17-17. Miami would rally for eight straight points on its next possession with sophomore Jill Robinson serving. Robinson’s eight-point run included two aces, and for the match she tallied 44 assists and 10 digs, a double-double.

Robinson’s sets were on point the entire match, only making one setting error. Her ability to stay out of the net on short sets allowed middle hitter and red-shirt sophomore Francheska Savage to tally 11 kills. Most of Tipiana’s 15 kills came from Robinson sets.

“Jill runs the show,” Tipiana said. “It’s great to see her doing well and playing every day. She’s always getting better.”

After Robinson’s rally the Hurricanes cruised to finish off game two. Game three saw two long Miami service possessions. The first wave was led by Tipiana, who had three aces with her patented jump serve.

“Val’s jump always puts pressure on other teams,” Lantagne Welch said. “We like to serve confident in our gym.”

The second wave of serving was led by senior outside hitter Ashley Youngs, who got the start over senior Elizabeth Tyson. While she did not record any aces, Youngs’ serving kept the momentum in Miami’s favor.

“We really tried to work on exploiting the weak passer by not hitting directly to her but around her,” Youngs said.

Youngs’ performance came close to being a double-double with eight kills and 11 digs. After her serving streak ended, Wake Forest continued to struggle with a number of hitting errors.

Miami’s defense was successful in shutting down some of the Demon Deacon’s big hitters. Only Valerie Rydberg tallied double-digit kills for Wake Forest with 13 on 32 attempts. Wake Forest’s attack percentage for game three was an abysmal -.056 with only eight kills.

The Hurricanes combined for seven blocks in the match and senior libero Jamie Grass had another big performance, leading Miami with 14 digs and two assists. The Hurricane starters combined for 51 digs.

“They were ranked higher in our region in the ACC so it was great to win,” Youngs said. “Every conference game is a game we have to win.”

Rodolfo Tomarchio can be contacted at r.tomarchio@umiami.edu.