Owls put up a fight, Canes win at home

Christine Williamson (17, Outside hitter) cheers with teammates after Miami sweeps FAU in volleyball home opener. Alex Broadwell//The Miami Hurricane

The Hurricane volleyball team played its first home game of the season Tuesday night and downed Florida Atlantic University in straight sets, 3-0, improving to 3-1 on the year.

The match was Miami’s first three-set sweep of the season. The quick game was a welcomed change in pace.

“It feels nice to win in three,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “It’s nice to come out strong, get a game won and start taking control of the match early.”

This past weekend at the Nike Invitational, the Hurricanes needed 10 sets to win two matches.

Against FAU things were different. Miami opened up the contest firing on all cylinders, cruising through the first set, winning it 25-13.

To the Owls’ credit, the final two sets were much more competitive. The Hurricanes won both by scores of 25-18 and 25-21 respectively.

Junior outside hitter Christine Williamson was a big reason for Miami’s success in the home opener. Her 16 kills were a match-high.

“At practice I told myself, ‘I’m going to pay attention to what’s going on on the other side [of the court] so I can get a kill,’ because last weekend was like horrible for me,” said Williamson, who carried Miami throughout the contest. “I figured I’d pick it up; that’s pretty much what I did.”

Miami also benefited from a big game out of redshirt junior setter Katie Gallagher. The Hurricanes as a whole recorded 44 assists in the three-set match, and Gallagher accounted for 39 of them.

“She’s the starting setter right now and she ran a very nice offense tonight,” Lantagne Welch said. “Efficiency in our offense was something that we wanted to improve on [from the Nike Invitational] and it was nice to see several players really respond well, and Katie do a better job of running the show.”

Lantagne Welch played freshmen throughout the match, and the newcomers held their own.

Outside hitter Alex Johnson recorded 10 kills, and libero Ryan Shaffer came away with a match-high 13 digs. Outside hitter Taylor Hollins also joined in with three key service aces.

“The freshmen have definitely stepped up,” Gallagher said. “I remember coming in as a freshman it was very difficult, you have a lot of pressure…they’ve played relaxed, they’ve played well. They’re very motivated and determined to do well.”

Miami heads back out on the road for its next match and will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to compete against Auburn in its first match of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash beginning Sept. 3.

Adam Berger may be contacted at aberger@themiamihurricane.com.