NORMAN, Okla. – Miami volleyball got off to a fast start at the NIKE Invitational and senior Ryan Shaffer climbed closer to the top of the record books.
The Canes (7-2) beat both Nebraska-Omaha and Oklahoma in three sets to guarantee a winning weekend in Oklahoma.
“Between both games I think our passers had one of their best days, consistency-wise,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “Ryan was a big part of that.”
Miami faced Nebraska-Omaha on Friday afternoon in McCasland Field House. The Hurricanes took the first set 25-22, before pulling away in the next two sets. Miami won both the second and third sets by six points, 25-19.
The Canes had several standouts in their matchup against Nebraska-Omaha, but Shaffer was the player who inched closer towards history. The senior collected 13 digs, moving past two-time AVCA All-American Lane Carico into second place on the Miami all-time digs list. Only Cassie Loessberg’s 2,008 digs rank above Shaffer in Hurricanes volleyball history.
“That’s huge,” Gandara said. “She came to UM to leave her mark and she has a chance to do that. It’s only our ninth game. It’s exciting because she is good at what she does. I am excited for her and I know she has a lot more of that in her.”
While Shaffer made an impact on defense, Savanah Leaf paced the Miami attack with a team-high 12 kills. The junior outside hitter also had 10 digs to pick up her fifth double-double of the season. Senior right side Alex Johnson also made noise at the net, tallying 10 kills to go with nine digs and a block.
The Hurricanes also received solid play from junior middles Emani Sims and Alexis Mourning, as well as sophomore outside hitter Misty Ma’a. The trio added 19 kills to bring Miami’s tally to 41 for the match. Junior setter Blair Fuentez helped set up the Miami attackers, dishing out 36 assists against the Mavericks.
“Savanah and Misty had a good day offensively,” Gandara said. “They were all over our middles so we saw what they gave us and took advantage of it. It was a good tactical game and we served really well.”
Shaffer was not the only player to make an impact on defense as the Canes had six blocks and 60 digs. Ma’a led all Hurricanes with 15 digs, while Fuentez and Leaf each added 10.
Miami continued its success in the evening, beating Oklahoma 25-18, 25-22 and 25-16 to give the Sooners their second loss of the season. The Hurricanes now lead their all-time series with Oklahoma, 3-2.
Leaf led the Hurricane attack again, picking up 19 kills against the Sooners. Ma’a, Johnson and Mourning combined for 24 kills, while Fuentez tallied 39 assists distributing the ball for Miami’s hitters.
Sims was a key defender at the net, picking up a team-high six blocks. Fuentez added five blocks to help Miami collect 16 blocks against the Sooners. Ma’a led the Canes in digs with 11, while Shaffer added nine digs to bring her career total to 1,733.
“Defensively, I thought the Oklahoma game was one of our best matches as far as staying with the game plan,” Gandara said.
While Gandara is pleased with how his team started at the NIKE Invitational, he knows they have another challenge ahead when they faceTulsa at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday.
“The contrast between the morning and afternoon game was good,” Gandara said. “I thought we got better as the day went on. We have another tough match tomorrow.”
The Hurricanes will open ACC play on Sept. 28 at Boston College. Their next home match is scheduled for Oct. 11 against Pitt. Miami will host the Panthers at 7 p.m. at the Knight Complex.
Miami volleyball season tickets are available for $35. Canes fans can also purchase a combined season ticket package for volleyball and soccer for $50. Single-game volleyball tickets are just $5 for adults and $3 for youth (Ages 3-17). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit CanesTix.com or call 305-284-2263.
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