Volleyball wins pair of weekend matches, improves to 8-2 in conference play

Freshman outside hitter Peyman Yardimci spikes the ball during warm ups prior to the Canes’ game versus UMBC in the Knight Sports Complex on Aug. 29, 2021.
Freshman outside hitter Peyman Yardimci spikes the ball during warm ups prior to the Canes’ game versus UMBC in the Knight Sports Complex on Aug. 29, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Another weekend, another set of wins for Miami volleyball.

After splitting last weekend’s home matches between Pitt and Virginia, the Hurricanes took to the road last weekend to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Virginia Tech Hokies in a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) matchups.

Despite going the distance against Wake Forest (11-10, 2-8 ACC), Miami (17-3, 8-2 ACC) was able to pull off a reverse sweep Friday night after dropping the first two sets of the match.

From start to finish, the two ACC foes fought a contested match, with all five sets being decided by less than 10 points and three of them being decided by less than five.

The Hurricanes played an inefficient first set on offense, registering an uncharacteristically high 11 errors in the opener and 9 kills for a net hitting percentage of -0.056.

After dropping the first set 25-17, the offense was revived in the second set, smashing 14 kills on only five errors. However, Wake Forest remained consistent on their offensive end of the floor, topping their opening set hitting percentage of .240 with a .243 hitting percentage in the second.

The rest of the match belonged to the Canes as Miami put on its best offensive performance of the night in the third set. With a .424 hitting percentage on 17 kills and three errors, the Hurricanes were able to escape a sweep with a 25-21 victory.

The match was drawn even closer in the fourth set, with Wake Forest leading 22-18 late, but an explosive 7-1 run by Miami secured a 25-23 win to force a fifth set.

In the match finale, Miami was nearly perfect, striking down nine kills and no errors on 18 attempts for a match-high hitting percentage on either side of .500. Wake Forest landed nine kills as well, but four errors proved crucial in the eventual 15-9 win for the Hurricanes.

On the night, four Hurricanes – Peyman Yardimci, Angela Grieve, Nyah Anderson, and Janice Leao – scored in the double-digits with kills. Yardimci’s 19 kills were a career high, and she also added 14 digs to her line for her second double-double.

“Feels like this was a little bit of a coming out party for Peyman,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “So far this season, she’s been an excellent complimentary piece, but we haven’t had to rely on her to carry us yet. Tonight, we did, and she was excellent. She can block better, but her attacking, serving and defense were all outstanding.”

Junior setter Savannah Vach’s 57 assists were also a season-best, but it was the second-most prestigious accomplishment of the night; her performance gave her 2,412 assists in her career as a Hurricane, ranking her fourth in program history.

Sunday’s matchup against Virginia Tech (9-13, 0-10 ACC) proved to be much less of an uphill battle than was the five-set marathon versus Wake Forest. Miami swept the match for its 13th of the season, winning each set by no less than seven points despite committing 16 errors.

Grieve recorded a career high in aces with five and paced the Hurricanes’ offense with 18 kills. Vach added 32 assists to her weekend, and defensive specialist Priscilla Hernandez registered 20 of Miami’s 51 digs en route to the win.

After the match, Gandara spoke on Hernandez’s consistency and evolution as a player.

“Priscilla has quietly become one of the best liberos in the conference,” Gandara said. “She was great today defensively and receiving serve. Of all the players I’ve had the pleasure of coaching here at Miami, she’d be on a short list of the ones I’m most proud of.”

With two more wins added to its conference schedule, Miami remains atop the ACC rankings tied for third with Georgia Tech, having only lost to the undefeated Louisville Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Panthers, who are also 8-2 in the ACC.

The Hurricanes will get their next chance on the court on Friday, Oct. 29 at 7:00 p.m. as they host the Syracuse Orange at the Knight Sports Complex.