Volleyball sweeps Houston Invitational

The University of Miami women’s volleyball team began its 2005 season in thrilling fashion with a three-team sweep of the Houston Invitational at the Alumni/Athletics Center in Houston, Texas, last weekend.

Led by senior outside hitter Karla Johnson, who tied a school record with 30 kills against Houston, the ‘Canes defeated the Cougars 3-2 (30-32, 30-25, 30-27, 17-30, 15-5), Saturday evening in the championship match.

Johnson, a Houston native, equaled the total kills in a match record, set in 2001 by Marcella Gamarra, and set a new mark for most kills in a five-game match. Johnson capped off her stellar homecoming by recording a double-double and adding a personal-best 11 digs. She also posted six total blocks in the match.

Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said she was impressed with Johnson’s effort and the support the upperclassmen gave to the underclassmen in crucial late-game situations.

“We played in several five-game matches last season and lost,” Lantagne Welch said. “Therefore, this season we wanted to focus on winning those close games and stepping up to those pressure situations. So, to be able to do this in our first opportunity we faced this season was a great feeling.”

Lantagne Welch said senior leadership was evident in the fifth game against Houston. After losing the first point of the game, the Hurricanes won 13 of the next 15, forcing seven Cougar errors during the run to claim a 15-5 victory.

“It just feels great to start the season with three wins, especially the way we finished it off, beating a really tough Houston team on their own court-that was great,” Lantagne Welch said. “The team definitely grew over the weekend and worked together.”

The ‘Canes (3-0) return to action this weekend to host the Hurricane Invitational, where Miami will welcome Jacksonville State and Xavier to the Knight Sports Complex.

Due to Tulane’s cancellation, only three matches will be played. The tournament will now open with Miami facing Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. on Friday. Play will resume on Saturday with Jacksonville State taking on Xavier at 11 a.m. The Hurricanes will once again take the court in the evening with a 7:30 p.m. match against Xavier.

Mike Holt can be contacted at m.holt1@umiami.edu.