Volleyball gets two clutch wins

In October the University of Miami volleyball team traveled to North Carolina for a two match road trip against UNC and NC State.

The Hurricanes didn’t win a single set the entire weekend in what was undoubtedly the lowest point of the 2010 season.

Fast-forward to the middle of November and Miami welcomed those same two teams to the Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables.

Needless to say things were a little different on the home court for the Hurricanes.

Miami (20-8, 10-7) beat NC State handily 3-1 on Friday night and toughed out a win in a thrilling four set against UNC on Sunday.

“We were very excited to play these teams again and show them what we’re all about,” coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “The biggest thing is just that we keep improving each day because every match in the ACC is a battle.”

The match against UNC was one of the more exciting contests the Hurricanes have played all season.

After breezing through the first two sets of the contest it looked as if Miami was in control.

A kill from junior outside hitter Christine Williamson put the ‘Canes up 20-13 and Miami was well on its way to a three-set sweep.

But UNC fought back hard, sending the set into extra points and eventually winning the frame 26-24.

The fourth set was even more dramatic. It took Miami 29 points to put the Tar Heels away. The Hurricanes won the match by set scores of 25-18, 25-23, 24-26 and 29-27.

The win took a full team effort as Miami received big contributions off the bench from sophomore outside hitter Lizzie Hale and sophomore setter Nrithya Sundararaman.

Freshman libero Ryan Shaffer also stepped up, recording a team high 26 digs in the contest.

Miami played with a noticeable fire and competitiveness the entire weekend. The team did a nice job of finishing off sets when they were close and offensive productivity hardly ever became stagnant.

With the two victories Miami ended a streak of splitting three consecutive weekend series.

The last time Miami swept a series was back in October when the ‘Canes took on Boston College and Maryland in a weekend road trip.

Those same two teams will help Miami finish of the year. The Hurricanes will welcome both the Eagles and the Terps to Coral Gables for the final two home matches of the season.

“I’m looking for a great battle…our next focus is on Boston College, and we barely squeaked by Maryland up there,” Lantagne Welch said.

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