Women’s volleyball sets high expectations at season’s start

Not a bad start to the 2011 season for the women’s volleyball team.

The Hurricanes returned to the court in top form this weekend, sweeping their way through the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La., going 3-0, including a tournament-clinching victory against LSU.

Miami opened up the tournament and with it the regular season by beating Jacksonville State in straight sets on Friday night by scores of 25-19, 25-18 and 25-14.

Senior Christine Williamson and sophomore Alex Johnson recorded eight kills apiece to lead all scorers in the contest, while senior Lane Carico served up a match-high four aces.

The second match of the tournament brought about much of the same from the Hurricanes. Miami cruised by Louisiana-Lafayette in straight sets, 25-19, 25-21 and 25-16, thanks in large part to a dominant performance by rightside Alex Johnson.

The sophomore recorded a career-high 17 kills in the Saturday afternoon contest, easily surpassing her previous career mark of 11.

Saturday evening, during the final match of the Tiger Classic, the ‘Canes took on tournament host LSU in what was a hard fought, five-set victory.

Miami opened up the contest by beating the Tigers in extra points 27-25, but lost the following two frames by scores of 25-13 and 25-16.

Down 2-1 and in danger of losing their first match of the season, the ‘Canes won a close fourth set 25-22 to even up the match against LSU 2-2. Miami went on to win the fifth and clinching set 15-8 in a dramatic end to a successful opening weekend for the Hurricanes.

“Tonight was a great experience because we had success and struggles, yet we were able to turn it around in the end for a victory on their home court,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said to Hurricanessports.com.

Alex Johnson, who recorded 14 kills and 17 digs in the final match, left Baton Rouge with tournament MVP honors. Johnson tallied up double-doubles in both Saturday contests. She only had three such performances in all of 2010.

Miami will next travel to Malibu, Calif., to compete in the Pepperdine Asics Classic. The tournament includes competition such as the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs.

Miami will hold its season opener the following weekend as the hosts of the annual Hurricane Invitational.