Canes volleyball bounces back, beats Notre Dame for first ACC win

The University of Miami women's volleyball team celebrates after winning a point during their match against USF on Sept. 5, 2021 at the Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables, Fl.
The University of Miami women’s volleyball team celebrates after winning a point during their match against USF on Sept. 5, 2021 at the Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables, Fl. Photo credit: Katrina Nguyen

Ninth-year Miami volleyball coach Jose “Keno” Gandara knew that if his team’s sharp mentality returned, almost everything would work out well.

And on Sunday, the Hurricanes cruised to victory, sweeping their ninth opponent in 10 wins this season. After being swept in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener at No. 5 Louisville on Friday, Miami (10-2, 1-1 ACC) responded in suit by sweeping the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-8, 0-1 ACC) in three sets at the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana.

Setter Savannah Vach, a preseason All-ACC honoree, flashed again in the Hurricanes’ successful start. The junior recorded her third double-double of the season, finishing with 32 assists and 13 digs — her second best dig performance of 2021, behind 15 against Texas State.

Gandara said that Miami was “dominated in all assets,” following the loss to Louisville. Yet on Sunday, the script flipped with the Hurricanes beating the Fighting Irish in kills, blocks and digs, leading to a resounding first conference win of the season.

The first set was close throughout, with the teams not being split by more than three points for a majority of the opening. Gandara was openly positive about his team’s toughness throughout non-conference play, and that toughness emerged late in set one.

After going down three, Miami recorded three straight blocks, two from Vach, to turn the tide for a 21-19 lead late on. A pair of Irish attack errors helped give UM a 25-21 win to open the contest.

Riding the momentum from set one, Miami dominated the second set en route to a 25-15 win in a sloppy set for Notre Dame, which committed seven of the 10 total errors in the frame. The Hurricanes led by as many as 10 points in the set, and wasted no time after jumping out, with redshirt sophomore Angela Grieve marking four of the final five points to put her team in the driver’s seat.

Grieve led all players with 16 kills on Sunday, tying her season-high. In the third set, Grieve was yet again the driving force for the Hurricanes. The outside hitter recorded ten points in the frame, stuffing the stat sheet with seven kills – including three first ball kills – two blocks and an ace to lead UM to a narrow 25-22 win for the secured sweep.

The win marked Miami’s ninth sweep this season, with the lone exception coming in a Sept. 3 3-1 win at USF. It was also the first win for the Hurricanes at Notre Dame since Sept. 29, 2017, when the Canes beat the Irish 3-1.

UM’s 9-1 start to this year remains its best start since 2017, and Miami showed the exact resilience it needed to notch its first conference win of the season. The Hurricanes now have roughly five days to prepare for their first home games since Sept. 5 this upcoming week, hosting North Carolina (11-2) on Friday at 8 p.m. and North Carolina State (7-6) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Knight Sports Complex.