Volleyball Opens with Orange and Green Challenge

Aug. 23, 2007

CORAL GABLES, Fla. –The University of Miami volleyball team opens the 2007 season this weekend when it hosts Hofstra, Jacksonville and Butler in the Orange and Green Challenge at the Knight Sports Complex, Aug. 24-25.

Jacksonville and Butler are set to battle in the tournament opener at 4 p.m. on Friday before the Hurricanes take on Hofstra at 7 p.m. Play resumes Saturday morning with Hofstra facing Butler at 10 a.m. in the first of four matches on the day. The day’s second match features UM against Jacksonville at 12:30 p.m. before Jacksonville turns around to play Hofstra at 5 p.m. Miami and Butler will then square off in the sixth and final match of the round-robin style tournament later that night at 7:30 p.m.

“It is a great opportunity for us to host our own tournament and have teams come in and see the university and the city of Miami,” head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. “We also get to enjoy being at home in front of our fans and not having to deal the rigors of traveling. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage this weekend.”

The Hurricanes head into the season led by the senior duo of Preseason All-ACC middle blocker Ciara Michel and libero/defensive specialist Michelle Bruin. Michel and fellow co-captain Ashley Woods return as the top two offensive threats for UM, having combined for 561 kills in 2006. In addition to her ability to score, Michel is also a key contributor on the defensive end, having set a single-season Miami record with 168 total blocks last year.

“We’ve worked very hard this preseason and we can’t wait for the season to get started,” Lantagne Welch said. “We’re a young, hungry team ready to get out on the court and show everybody what we are all about. It will be fun to finally get out there and compete.”

Returning nine letterwinners and welcoming five newcomers, the Canes are coming off a 12-19 campaign in 2006, just the first losing season in Lantagne Welch’s six-year tenure at Miami.

About Hofstra
The Pride is coming off one of their best seasons in school history, finishing 24-7 overall and 17-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play en route to the league championship. Hofstra also reached the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in school history in 2006, defeating Cornell in the first round for the Pride’s first-ever tournament win. Outside hitter Lauren Engle and middle blocker Amanda Beyersdorff lead the Pride offensively after both finished with over two kills-per-game in 2006.

About Jacksonville
Led by returning middle blocker Melissa Merchant, the Dolphins went 17-15 overall and 5-4 in Atlantic Sun matches in 2006. Merchant, who led the conference with a 1.27 blocks per game average, also leads all returning players having collected 256 kills last year. Outside hitter Sara Bendorf will join Merchant on the offensive attack, boasting a team-best 3.42 kills per game average in 2006.

About Butler
The Bulldogs finished the 2006 season with an overall record of 8-22 with a 6-8 mark in Horizon League play. Sophomore outside hitter Porshia Allen, a Horizon League All-Newcomer last season, returns as Butler’s go-to hitter in 2007. Allen led the team in almost every offensive category her freshman season, including kills (315), kills per game (2.94) and attack attempts (1,041). Senior outside hitter/middle blocker Michelle DeGeeter (301 kills in 2006) will also be a force up front for the Bulldogs.

The Orange and Green Challenge marks the start of the season for all four teams in the field.

The Hurricanes match Friday night against Hofstra can be heard live on the University’s student network WVUM 90.5 FM. Fans can follow every match of the tournament via GameTracker at www.hurricanesports.com. To access GameTracker, visit the Miami volleyball page and click on the 2007 Orange and Green Challenge link. For tickets, contact the Hurricane ticket office at 1-800-GO-CANES.

Orange and Green Challenge Schedule
Friday, Aug. 24
Jacksonville vs. Butler, 4 p.m.
Hofstra vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 25
Butler vs. Hofstra, 10 a.m.
Jacksonville vs. Miami, 12:30 p.m.
Hofstra vs. Jacksonville, 5 p.m.
Butler vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.