The Hurricanes took Baton Rouge by storm over the weekend, defeating No. 20 Purdue and host Louisiana State in tough matches in the LSU Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
Although they lost all three matches in the Missouri State Tournament in Missouri last week, the Canes left Louisiana with two impressive wins despite the hostile environment.
Miami (5-3) kicked off the tournament with a five-set win over ranked Purdue Saturday night. The Canes took the first two sets 25-19 and dropped the following two sets 26-24 only to recover to win the fifth and final set 15-13. It was Miami’s first win over a ranked opponent on the road since the team defeated Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 7, 2002.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” head coach Jose Gandara said to HurricaneSports.com. “Purdue is a good team and they fought us tough. I’m proud of the way the girls played after disappointing games 3 and 4. It was exciting to see them understand the situation and respond.”
Sophomore outside hitter Olga Strantzali sealed the victory with a service ace after the Canes won three points in a row to take a 14-13 lead in the final set. The second-year player from Greece led Miami with a team-high 18 kills. She was one of three players for Miami to finish the match with double-digit kills along with senior Taylor Scott (14) and junior Kelsie Groot (13).
The Canes opened Sunday afternoon’s match against LSU by taking the first set 25-23, but dropped the second set 25-20. Miami rebounded to take the next two sets 25-20 and 25-23.
The Tigers had no answer for redshirt senior middle blocker Alexis Mourning. The imposing Texan led Miami in kills (14), blocks (6) and in attack percentage (.542).
However, it was Scott, the outside hitter from Claremont, California, who earned Tournament MVP honors and was named the ACC Player of the Week for women’s volleyball on Monday. Scott finished the tournament in Baton Rouge with a team-high 28 kills and 35 digs, just two behind senior Kalysta White for most on the team.
The Canes close out non-conference play with the FIU/Miami Challenge at the Knight Sports Complex this week. Miami faces Seattle University at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Central Florida at 7 p.m. on Friday.