Hurricanes Prepare For First Round Clash
Dec. 5, 2002
MADISON, Wisc. (www.hurricanesports.com) – – The University of Miami volleyball team practiced today for its first-ever NCAA Tournament match.
In the first round, Miami will face the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Duke Friday at 5 p.m. in the Wisconsin Field House in Madison, Wisc.
The Hurricanes are in just their second season of collegiate play and their first in the BIG EAST Conference. It is also the first campaign in which they can compete in post-season play.
UM is led by BIG EAST Player of the Year Valeria Tipiana (.314 hitting percentage, 4.02 kills per game), Marcela Gamarra (4.08 kills per game), and conference Setter of the Year Mallorey James (12.81 assists per game).
The Blue Devils finished their season with the best record in program history at 24-9 and third in their conference after falling to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament.
Duke presents a balanced attack, but senior outside hitter Jill Sonnes and junior middle blocker/outside hitter Katie Gilman are granted the lion’s share of sets with 906 and 828 respectively.
“They’re a very solid team,” said UM coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “They’ve got good size and we’ve seen that a few times this season so we’ll expect a pretty good block. They’ve also got some really nice hitters. I think we can use their big block to our advantage some of the time and play Miami’s style of volleyball: running a quick offense. It should be great match.”
The key for the Hurricanes, according to Lantagne Welch, will be “serving, passing, and ball control.”
“If we can serve and pass very well and get our hands on as many balls as possible on defense, we’ll definitely increase our chances,” the coach said.
The Blue Devils are led on offense by Gilman (3.31 kills per game) and at the net by 6-foot-3 middle blocker Krista Dill (1.12 blocks per game) and middle blocker Rachel Vander Griend (1.17 blocks per game).
Miami has faced three teams that have qualified for the NCAA Tournament during the season, going 3-1. The Hurricanes defeated South Florida 3-1 and Florida State 3-2. They split with BIG EAST standard bearer Notre Dame, winning the first meeting 3-2 during the regular season and the conceding the second 3-1 in the conference championship.
Should the Hurricanes defeat Duke, they will face either Wisconsin or Alabama A&M Saturday at 7 p.m.
In order to follow the Hurricanes’ match via live stats, go to uwbadgers.com and click on the game day icon.
For more information on University of Miami athletics log on to its websitewww.hurricanesports.com, the official site for all Hurricane news, ticketsand apparel. For Hurricane ticket information call 1-800-GO CANES.