Volleyball takes 21-1 Maryland to the limit

The women’s volleyball team hit one of its toughest stages of the year, losing four out of five matches. To make matters worse, Miami was hit by Hurricane Wilma and forced the anticipated Florida State match up to be postponed to Nov. 15.

“The hurricane put a change in our routine,”Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “But we were lucky to get power back on campus and after a couple days we were able to get back to practice.”

Maybe the break gave the team a chance to focus, because it came out and played well over the weekend, losing in five sets to 21-1 Maryland and beating Boston College in three sets.

“I believe our team is improving,” Lantagne Welch said. “We are starting to make changes quicker on the court.”

The lack of consistent play has been a problem for the team throughout the year. Certain players were able to step up last weekend and the team hopes that its effort will continue from here on out.

“Kaitlin Kozak was one of the girls I asked to step up,” Lantagne Welch said. “Challenges went out to a couple of other players and the play was picked up. Not allowing teams to get long runs on us has been problem.”

Miami is now 11-10 overall and 5-6 in the ACC. The team still has nine more games on its schedule and has a chance to make a late push up the ACC standings.

“Our team is very hungry,” Lantagne Welch said. “After we finished the first half of the season we had a chance to have a meeting. We know we were playing with the other teams and that we need to play better against them to win.”

Lantagne Welch said she hopes her team can begin to make that charge this weekend when Miami goes to Georgia Tech on Friday and Clemson on Saturday.

“We are looking forward to the weekend,” Lantagne Welch said. “Georgia Tech was one of the matches we let slip away at home. It is always harder to win on the road and they are one of the teams that draw the best in the conference for attendance.”

With a chance to start a winning streak, the team saw positive results last weekend, showing that if they play their best game the Hurricanes are as good as any team they face. The game plan becomes quite simple because it is up to the team itself.

“We need a bigger sense of urgency from start to finish,” Lantagne Welch said. “We need a little bit more effort on every point and we have to quickly adapt to changes on the court and make a strong finish.”

Denis Brown can be contacted at dbrown@umsis.miami.edu.