Volleyball pulls off tough win

University of Miami women’s volleyball improved its record to 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 7-4 overall after defeating Clemson in a five-game nail biter 3-2 (30-25, 30-32, 28-30, 30-25, 15-8) in UM’s ACC home opener at the Knight Sports Complex Friday.

The Hurricanes, after initially trailing 2-1, rallied in the fourth and fifth games to hand the Tigers (7-4, 2-1) their first conference loss of the season.

“The key for us was coming back in game four,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “We just decided that we were not going to hand it over, so we raised our level of play and carried that momentum into game five.”

The Hurricanes are 3-1 this season when playing in the fifth and deciding game.

“We like the fifth game,” Lantagne Welch said. “I’m very proud of the way that we have been able to comeback in late-game situations.”

In the victory, Miami had four players total double-digit kills, five with double-digit digs and three players registered double-doubles.

Senior Karla Johnson and junior Jill Robinson continued their steady play. Johnson recorded a career-high 18 digs, 17 kills, three service aces and four total blocks. Robinson led all players with 58 assists and posted a career-high 16 digs.

The ‘Canes received a stellar effort from red-shirt sophomore Ciara Michel, who had five solo blocks to go along with three block assists and 11 kills.

Sophomore Michelle Bruin contributed a personal-best 16 digs, while freshman Lauren Rinderknecht tallied her first double-double of her career with 11 kills and 14 digs.

“Michelle really secured our passing and Frannie [Savage] was awesome in her attack,” Lantagne-Welch said. “Sara Duncan also came off the bench in games four and five and showed really aggressive play.”

In front of an announced crowd of 822, the Hurricanes took the first game 30-25 before falling 30-32 in a dramatic second game and 28-30 in the third game.

Down 2-1, a rejuvenated Miami squad fell behind 12-6 before a 6-2 run tied the score at 15. The Hurricanes pulled away with five straight points for a 20-15 lead. Clemson would close to within two, but the Tigers could not keep the momentum as the Hurricanes claimed a 30-25 victory.

During the final game Miami jumped to a 5-1 lead before the Tigers made the score 7-7. The ‘Canes capitalized on four consecutive Clemson errors while posting four blocks near the end of the game to take a 15-8 game and match victory.

Sunday, however, the ‘Canes blew a 2-1 lead against Georgia Tech and lost in five games. Georgia Tech won the deciding game 15-9.

Miami returns to action on Friday when it takes on North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., at 7 p.m.

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