On the ninth anniversary of her hiring by the University of Miami, head volleyball coach Nicole Lantagne Welch saw her team sweep the University of Albany in straight sets.
After suffering a tough loss to cross-town rival FIU Thursday, the Hurricanes returned home to the Knight Sports Complex Friday night on a mission. They bounced back nicely in their final two matches of the FIU/Miami Invitational, beating both Middle Tennessee State and Albany.
“You know, being in such tight matches really gets your character going,” Lantagne Welch said. “We learned a lot [against FIU]. Every point is critical…you come together and you find a way and that’s what we did.”
The turnaround wasn’t easy for Miami, who bounced back and beat two teams that appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
In the first set following their Thursday night loss, the Canes had several poor serves and unforced errors. They lost the frame to Middle Tennessee State by a score of 23-25 but rebounded in a big way.
The Hurricanes tied up the match in a very close second set victory, 26-24, and headed in to the locker room for the customary mid-game intermission. Upon returning to the court, Miami jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the third set and never looked back. They took the next two frames by scores of 25-17 and 25-19 to win the match.
Visibly ecstatic about the victory was Hurricanes’ libero Cassie Loessberg, who had a game-high 30 digs and a gigantic smile on her face following the win.
“When we lost the first [set] and were so close, we were [angry],” Loessberg said. “There’s no way that they come to our home turf and take a game away from us…we just decided it’s time. They’re in our gym, they’re going to fire at us, we’re going to fire back as hard as we can.”
Fire back they did, all the way to Saturday night’s finale against Albany where Miami swept the Great Danes by set scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-20.
As for Lantagne Welch and the anniversary of her hiring by former Athletic Director Paul Dee nine years ago Saturday, the coach wasn’t even aware of the occasion. She did have some reflective words about her time spent here at the University of Miami.
“It’s been an incredible journey. To start a program from scratch is a very special situation,” Lantagne Welch said. “I’m very proud of the progress the program’s made and it means a tremendous deal to me.”
The journey continues this week for the proud coach as she and the Hurricanes head up to Tallahassee to face off against ACC foe Florida State in their first in-conference match of the 2009 season.
Adam Berger may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.