UM drops third straight game, lose to Pittsburgh 3-1

Photo credit: Zach Grissom

It has been a tough week for Miami Hurricanes volleyball.

After winning their first nine games of the season, the Canes have lost three straight. Miami lost 1-3 to Pittsburgh Oct. 8 at James L. Knight Sports Complex.

The Hurricanes (9-3, 3-3 ACC) started off hot, taking hold of the first point with a kill from All-ACC outside hitter Olga Strantzali. This seemed like it would set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

But it was all downhill from there for the Canes.

UM would go on to drop the first two sets 19-25 and 16-25. Pittsburgh (13-4, 6-0 ACC) put up a strong defensive front with several blocks and pinpoint passing from its defensive specialist.

After a quick start to the second set by the Hurricanes, the Panthers went on a 10-2 run to lead 11-5.

“I think they are a good team – they are well coached, and they were pretty consistent,” Miami head coach Jose Gandara said. “Unfortunately, we gave them a lot of confidence after the first two games. When you are in tight battles, a couple points are a big difference.”

After an intermission and break in the locker room, the Hurricanes came out with new momentum. They showed a level of aggression that wasn’t there in the first two sets – a level fans were used to seeing in the team’s first nine victories.

“It’s always about the facts – we had some stats that showed what we had to do a little better,” Gandara said. “We talked about what we are capable of and gave a game plan and went back at it. It’s not always new stuff, just maybe the same stuff done a little better.”

Miami finished the third set on top, winning 25-21 while reaching a team hitting percentage of .385. The Canes amped up defense as well, with two major blocks from Strantzali, senior middle blocker Sakile Simmons and junior setter Haley Templeton.

The Canes continued their strong play in the fourth set, forcing extra points, but the Panthers made their final run at the right time to win 26-24.

Strantzali, a senior, led the Canes in kills with 16. Junior outside hitter Kolby Bird added 11 kills with a .409 hitting percentage.

UM looks to snap its three-game losing streak when it travels to Durham, North Carolina, to play Duke at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.