‘Canes try to jump to highest ACC tier

The University of Miami volleyball team, which currently stands 5-9 overall and 2-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, is heading into this weekend with games against both North Carolina State (2-12, 0-5) and the University of North Carolina (3-11, 1-4). If Miami is able to sweep the two games, they can jump above .500 in ACC play and join the upper tier of the conference.

Miami has had two losing streaks of three games and have not won back-to-back games all season. The ‘Canes started 0-2 in conference play after a losses to Florida State and against Boston College.

Two days after the Boston College loss, Miami swept Maryland 3-0. In the same weekend, the Hurricanes faced Clemson, but were unable to come away with a win, falling 1-3.

It took the ‘Canes four games to defeat Georgia Tech and improve their record to 2-3 in the ACC.

“I think that the Georgia Tech match was arguably our best of the season,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “So the wins [against Maryland and Georgia Tech] were encouraging, but it also tells us the level we have to play every match.”

Improvements have been made throughout the season by the coaching staff to adjust to the high level of play. Most recently, the coaching staff has worked on improving the defensive effort of every player.

Lantagne Welch will not allow her players to take this weekend lightly, despite the fact that NC State hasn’t secured a win and UNC only has one win in the ACC this season.

“NC State took a game off us last year,” Lantagne Welch said. “If you underestimate anyone in this conference, you’re going to go home losing. You have to bring your best every night.”

The senior leadership of the team is vital to a team with eight underclassmen. The experiences of being in these ACC battles are important in keeping an edge during each match.

“We are not underestimating any team this year,” Sara Duncan, outside hitter, said. “I feel like anyone can beat anyone on any given day. We just have to stay focused, be determined, and have our minds on what we want to achieve.”

Since joining the ACC two years ago, Miami holds a 7-1 record against NC State and UNC.

The importance to a big weekend will be to get off to a quick start. The Hurricanes are trying to accomplish this by putting together a strong week of practice.

“We’re just trying to play our game,” Frannie Savage, outside hitter, said. “Play every drill, every ball to the highest capacity. Don’t overlook anything; just try to play every ball like it’s the last one.”

Miami will host NC State today at 8 p.m. and UNC on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at the Knight Sports Complex.

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