Canes beat Duke, Wake Forest to extend home streak to 12

Sophomore Alexis Mourning (4) spikes the ball after a set from senior Hurricane Nrithya Sundararaman during this past weekend’s game against Duke. The Canes had a 2-0 homestand, which included a win over Duke and one against Wake Forest. Zach Beeker // Staff Photographer 

After splitting last weekend’s two-game ACC set, Miami looked to bounce back against two other ACC opponents in Coral Gables this weekend. They did exactly that, beating Duke and Wake Forest at the Knight Sports Complex.

On Sunday, the Canes took on Wake Forest. Miami fell behind early in the first set 4-1, but then found its groove.

The Canes finished the first set on a 14-4 run to and won 25-11. Miami expanded its lead with a 6-1 run to start the second set. They killed every potential run that Wake Forest mounted, never letting the Deacons within three points of the lead.  After winning the second set 25-17, Miami pulled ahead in the third to cruise to a 25-15 victory.

“Our focus this week in practice was great and we had a sense of needing to accomplish something,” coach Nicole Lantangne Welch said. “Our preparation was very good this week to get these two wins.”

On Friday, Miami pulled out an up-and-down match against Duke that featured 25 ties and 10 lead changes. The Canes won the first set 25-18, but dropped the next one 25-19.

A thrilling third set proved to be the difference for the Canes. After taking a 23-20 lead, Miami gave up three straight points to the Blue Devils and went to extra points. Miami fended off three set points and rallied to win the set, 29-27. They won the next set 25-21 to take the match in four sets.

“I thought it was a high-level volleyball match,” Lantangne Welch said. “Duke forced us to raise our level of play with their great defense. We had to be patient and our middles played really well.”

The Canes are now 12-3 on the season and 4-1 in ACC play.

“This weekend was huge for us,” senior setter Nrithya Sundararaman said. “It was one of our biggest focuses to go 2-0 on this weekend and bounce back from Virginia Tech.”

Sophomore Emani Sims was the star of the weekend. She had  a career-high 18 kills on Friday against Duke and followed that by recording 14 kills against Wake.

“Emani is hard to stop when she is on,” Lantagne Welch said. “She was able to make herself available on both transition and serve-receive to be a force in the middle.”

Miami also extended its home winning streak to 12. Dating back to last season,  the Canes are 23-1 at home in their last 24 matches.

“The energy of the crowd fuels us and we’re obviously more comfortable here,” Sundararaman said. “But we have to step up our road performances.”

Miami will take the court at the Knight Sports Complex again next weekend.

They take on N.C. State Friday at 7 p.m. and the Tar Heels of North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m.