Volleyball remains unbeaten in 2005

The women’s volleyball team extended its six-match winning streak, which dates back to last year, by completing a two-team sweep of the Hurricane Invitational Tournament this weekend at the Knight Sports Complex.

The Hurricane Invitational is the second straight tournament the Hurricanes (5-0) have won this season.

The ‘Canes defeated Jacksonville State University 3-0 (30-24, 33-31, 30-25) in the opening match of the tournament on Friday evening.

Senior outside hitter Karla Johnson recorded a match-high 18 kills against the Gamecocks, which helped maintain her ACC-leading 6.13 kills per game average.

Red-shirt junior middle-blocker Francheska Savage tallied 14 kills and committed only one error for a match-high .591 hitting percentage. Both players posted three total blocks (1BS, 2BA) to help the ‘Canes.

Miami then outlasted Xavier (6-2) in a five-game nail-biter 3-2 (30-23, 27-30, 30-21, 22-30, 15-10), on Saturday evening to claim the championship in exciting fashion.

The Hurricanes were supercharged by the stellar performance of junior setter Jill Robinson, who was merely two kills shy of a triple-double with 56 assists, 15 digs and eight kills in the match. She also averaged 12.12 assists per game and registered a .419 hitting percentage on her way to being selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“Jill’s got experience beyond her years and she can do a lot on the court with her athleticism,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said.

“That’s why we really expect a lot out of her this season, because we realize her potential.”

Johnson also recorded a double-double against the Musketeers, leading all players with 20 kills while tallying 11 digs and three solo blocks, matching a career-high. She was also elected to the All-Tournament team.

But it was Savage’s play in the fifth game that helped propel Miami over Xavier. Savage did not commit a single error, going 4-for-7, posted one solo block and added a service ace. She finished the match with 16 kills and a match-high six total blocks (3BS, 3BA). She was also named to the All-Tournament team.

“Frannie definitely had a key series for us down the stretch with a few kills in a row, but her play was not only important at the end of the match, but throughout the entire match,” Lantagne Welch said. “Not only can she contribute with kills and assists, but her blocking is just such a valuable piece of this team.”

This season the Hurricanes, who were 2-5 in five-game situations in 2004, are undefeated in matches that have come down to a fifth and deciding game.

“I think that when we get into a situation when it comes to a fifth game, we’re playing confident and just getting after it,” Lantagne Welch said. “We’re staying aggressive and we’re playing to win. It’s really shown in the two matches where we’ve been in that situation. We’re rising to the occasion and rising to the pressure. It’s all about a mind-set to win in game five.”

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