Hurricanes dominate defending ACC champion UNC Tar Heels in 3-0 sweep

Miami redshirt freshman outside hitter Elizaveta Lukianova powers down an attack in a 3-0 win over North Carolina Oct. 29 at Knight Sports Complex. Lukianova finished with six kills on the match. Photo credit: Josh White

One day after the Miami Hurricanes football team escaped North Carolina on the gridiron, Canes volleyball downed the Tar Heels 3-0 on the hardwood.

Miami (14-4, 8-4 ACC) controlled the match from start to finish and defeated the defending ACC champions 25-21, 25-18, 25-18.

“UNC is a big physical team and they only blocked us four times, which was critical for the win,” Miami coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said after the game. “I also thought we served well and didn’t make a lot of hitting errors. In general, we got better as the match went on, and that’s what we as a coaching staff look for.”

Senior outside hitter Olga Strantzali led the way for the Hurricanes with 15 kills and 10 digs, earning her eighth double-double of the season. Junior outside hitter Kolby Bird chipped in 11 kills and eight digs.

“Everything worked well for us today, not just for me,” Strantzali said. “We didn’t pass as well as we can, but we found some solutions for that. We took some good swings, and that helped us a lot. Our block also made it easier for us to defend UNC.”

The Hurricanes hit an efficient .374 of their attacks and were able to limit the Tar Heels’ (10-10, 7-5 ACC) offense to just .179.

Redshirt junior setter Haley Templeton tallied seven kills on an incredible .700 hitting display to go along with her season-high 34 assists. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Elizaveta Lukianova totaled six kills off the bench and played an integral role in the closing set.

“It’s going to take a team effort to do what we want to do, and fortunately, I see it every week,” Gandara said. “I knew Liza has been getting better and better, and Brooke McDermott has been doing well, so it’s healthy competition at that position. I think we have some depth, and on any given night, we can call on them and they will be ready.”

Miami’s defense held strong, finishing with 43 digs and four blocks. The Canes featured six players with at least four digs, while senior middle blocker Sakile Simmons contributed a match-high three blocks.

North Carolina received a strong effort from middle blocker Beth Nordhorn, who recorded eight kills while hitting .500.

The Hurricanes opened the match midway through the opening frame with a 14-9 advantage, but the Tar Heels responded. UNC went on a 5-0 run to even up the set. Miami rallied, stringing together eight of the next nine points to ultimately close out the first period.

The Canes hit .423 in the opening set and held the Tar Heels to .161.

Miami kicked off the second set in similar fashion, leading by as many as eight points. North Carolina was able to climb within three, but UM answered back with plays from its stars to get the victory.

UM went into the break with a 30-20 advantage in kills, 29-19 advantage in assists and 29-18 advantage in digs.

The Hurricanes never looked back after the intermission, hitting .344 in the final frame to complete their first victory over UNC since 2013.

“Playing at home really helps us a lot because all of our fans are here and it’s super awesome,” Bird said. “We realized after the three-straight losses earlier this month and then the loss to Notre Dame that we have got to pick it up if we want to make it to the tournament. That is our final goal, and we know what we have to do to achieve it, so I think that helped us this weekend.”

Miami concludes its five-match home stand when it hosts rival Florida State at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 back at Knight Sports Complex.