Volleyball struggling in ACC play

Despite senior Frannie Savage’s match-high 19 kills, the Miami Hurricanes (7-13, 4-7) were unable to notch a victory at home on Friday against Duke University. The Blue Devils, who are first in the Atlantic Coast Conference, defeated UM in three straight games.

Savage’s kills paired with senior setter Jill Robinson’s 35 assists and freshman libero Cassie Loessberg’s team-high eight digs were not enough to propel UM past an aggressive Blue Devil squad.

In game one both teams played evenly, posting seven tied scores. With the score tied at nine, Duke managed to pull ahead after a Hurricane service error. Though UM stayed within three points, Duke widened its lead following a key attack error by junior Ciara Michel. From there, Duke held on to its lead to seal the victory 30-22.

Costly errors in game two kept the Hurricanes from finding their rhythm against a sharper, faster Duke team, which out-hustled UM early on. After jumping to a 6-1 lead, the Blue Devils pulled away and won 30-20.

The Hurricanes opened game three with much more energy, quickly taking an 8-4 lead. But the Blue Devils did not allow UM to stretch that lead by more than four. After trailing 23-21, Duke pulled ahead with six straight points. However, Miami managed to rally back and edge within one point, 29-28, until a kill by Duke’s Carrie DeMange sealed the match 30-28.

Though Duke served six more service aces than Miami’s two, the Hurricanes were able to out-dig the Blue Devils 41-32. Such numbers are pleasing to Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, considering Duke’s players lead the ACC in digs, assists and points per game.

“We fought very hard and were fired up to play. At times we looked great and I think we’ve playing at a much higher level,” Lantagne Welch said. “I definitely think we could’ve blocked better. I don’t think we touched enough of their attacks. They hit at a ridiculous percentage in the first two games, so we started digging more balls in game three. We just have to be very consistent with our first touch so other teams can’t get in a groove.”

Before facing Duke, the ‘Canes snapped Florida State University’s four-game winning streak on the road in a match that was pushed to a fifth game.

Despite dropping the first two games 30-27 and 30-16, UM regained its composure after the intermission and controlled the next three 30-22, 20-28, and 15-9.

Savage led UM with 18 kills, while Robinson recorded a match-high and personal best 58 assists. Michel contributed four blocks.

Victor R. Rodriguez may be contacted at v.rodriguez18@umiami.edu.