Miami eliminated by No. 21 Florida in second round of NCAA Tournament

After a magical run to the NCAA Tournament that saw Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara’s team dominate the Atlantic Coast Conference, Miami was swept by Florida Friday night in Gainesville, bringing an end to a dominant season.

Miami’s 2021 appearance in the tournament was the program’s first since 2018, when the team made it to the second round with a 22-6 overall record. This season, the Hurricanes finished 25-5 with a record of 15-3 in conference play, tied for second in the conference with No. 3 Pitt.

Miami issued a gentleman’s sweep to the South Alabama Jaguars Thursday night to advance in the tournament before taking on their cross-state rival in the No. 21 Gators (22-8, 14-4 Southeastern Conference). The sweep over Miami gave the Hurricanes their second shutout match loss of the season; the first came to No. 1 Louisville on Sept. 24.

“I’m really proud of this group, obviously; it takes a lot of work to get to this point and we value that,” Gandara said. “Unfortunately, tonight wasn’t our best night. We faced a good opponent that was ready to play.”

On the night, Miami was outscored 75-51, with the narrowest set loss being decided by a 25-20 score. On the offensive end of the floor, the Gators neutralized the Canes, limiting Miami to an average hitting percentage of .053. The Hurricanes’ best offensive performance came in the match opener, when the team registered eight kills and five errors for a hitting percentage of .088.

Junior middle blocker led the team with 10 kills and was the only Hurricane to log a double-digit points output. Outside hitter Angela Grieve followed with eight kills, but struggled keeping the ball within the boundary lines and committed eight errors.

Despite the season-ending loss, senior libero Priscilla Hernandez made her mark on program history with a 15-dig performance that propelled her beyond the 1,000-dig career milestone. At 1,011 digs, Hernandez ranks eighth in program history.

Hernandez was also one of five players on the team to receive All-ACC honors after Miami’s bounceback season; Savannah Vach was named to the All-ACC First Team, Peymand Yardimci was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team, and Hernandez, Leao and Grieve were named to the All-ACC Second Team.

“I know we’re going to grow from this experience,” Gandara said. “It’s been a difficult road the last couple of years with some challenges, and to get here today is a great opportunity for our program and a chance to grow moving forward.”