Hurricanes Set for Haunted Weekend of Volleyball

Hurricanes Set for Haunted Weekend of Volleyball

Oct. 30, 2008

Coral Gables, Fla. – Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Miami volleyball is ready to try and break their two-match losing skid in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) this weekend when they host Duke and Wake Forest to the James L. Knight Sports Complex on Friday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 2. They will be looking to keep their home court winning streak intact as they’ve won 12 matches in a row at the Knight Sports Complex dating back to 2007.

It will be a haunted weekend of volleyball for the `Canes who are encouraging all fans to dress up for Halloween, and where any child 12-and under wearing a costume will be admitted free of charge. Sebastian the Ibis will also be in attendance giving out candy to fans.

After dropping back-to-back matches in one road swing for the first time all season, the Hurricanes–under the leadership of eighth-year head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, are looking to snap their current skid this weekend while hosting two powerful teams from the state of North Carolina.

The Orange and Green met Duke and Wake Forest earlier this year back in September. UM is hoping to have a repeat performance from their 3-1 victory over Duke on September 25 which marked the first-ever win against the Blue Devils in Durham. However, the following day Wake Forest ended Miami’s 15-match winning streak with their 3-0 win. The streak had stretched back to November 21 of last year.

Against Wake Forest on Sunday, the `Canes will be participating as part of the Dig for the Cure campaign against breast cancer.

“The Dig for the Cure is an amazing event in which volleyball teams across the country are doing their part to support breast cancer research,” stated Lantagne Welch. “Breast cancer, unfortunately, has some chilling statistics as one in every eight women in the United States has a risk of developing it. No doubt it has affected most of us or will in our lifetime.”

The Dig for the Cure program was started in 2003 by Lisa Marston, a former volleyball coach at UNC Charlotte after her mother survived breast cancer. The D4C foundation hopes to raise $350,000 this year.

For the first time all season, the University of Miami faces a tough task of trying to climb back atop the ACC standings. The Hurricanes dropped back-to-back matches last weekend in one road swing for the first time all season. Prior, they had not dropped more than one match in any one road trip. They are now tied for fourth place in the league, sitting one match back with a log jam atop the standings, as well as in the fourth place position.

Miami is tied with Georgia Tech and North Carolina, respectively, in fourth place while holding a light head-to-head advantage over both schools.

The `Canes come into this weekend looking to bounce back, but it will have to come against Duke (17-6, 8-3 ACC) and Wake Forest (15-8, 6-5 ACC). The `Canes fell to Wake Forest, 0-3, back on Sept. 26, but did come away with just their first-ever win at Duke, 3-1, on Sept. 25. The loss to Wake Forest on the road, curbed UM’s winning streak at 15 matches dating back to the end of the 2007 campaign.

Miami enters the weekend looking for just their third-ever win over Duke, and their sixth over Wake Forest. The `Canes are ranked third in the league in kills (1,111) and sit atop the league in service aces (140). They are also third in digs (1,355).

The `Canes had a chance to secure the top spot at the midway point of the ACC campaign last weekend for the first time since joining the league back in 2004, but that charge was halted by Virginia and Virginia Tech. The `Canes had a 2-0 lead against the Cavaliers, only to drop the final three sets. They were bounced 3-1 against Virginia Tech a night later in Blacksburg.

UM is only one game out of first place, but the back end of the schedule looks promising as all of UM’s losses in the first half of the season came away from the Knight Sports Complex. They return those teams to Coral Gables on the back end, beginning with two touch matches this weekend with a meeting from teams with a combined 32-14 record (14-8 ACC). UM has no injury to report, other than Griffin Udelson (Jr., DS) who has been sitting out all year taking a medical redshirt.

Duke may be a team with three ACC losses, but they are a team that’s also won four ACC matches in a row. They are coming off a stretch where they shutout Boston College and Maryland at home. Jourdan Norman is among the top 10 players in hitting percentage in the league, and teammate Rachael Moss is in the top five for kills. Mix the fact that Kellie Catanach is fourth in assists, and the Blue Devils are starting to peak at just the right time for a run at the ACC title. The Blue Devils are tied for first place with Clemson and Virginia Tech, but they do hold a lead over Virginia Tech with a head-to-head win, but not against Clemson.

Duke has Becci Burling (231) and Rachael Moss (299) leading the way in kills, with Jourdan Norman (196) just behind them that would give the Blue Devils a league second-best three players with 200-plus kills on the campaign. Clemson has three players with 200-or more kills already. The defense for Duke is sparked by Claire Smalzer with 387 digs, placing her sixth in the conference for that category.

The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest are an exceptionally talented group that proved just that a month ago in Winston-Salem, stopping the Hurricanes 13-0 record, and ending a 15-match win streak for Miami. Wake Forest is tied for seventh place in the league at 6-5 in the ACC, while sitting beside Florida State in the league-standings. Wake did win their last two matches against Maryland and Boston College, respectively.

Wake Forest is sparked by Natalie Mullikin (272 kills) and Kristen White (206 kills) on the year. Libero Megan Thornberry leads the defense with 374 digs, and setter Kelsey Jones sets up the offense with a league third-best mark of 888 assists. Mullikin is ninth in the league is hitting percentage (.332) while sitting in fifth place for kills. Thornberry is fourth for her dig performance.

Miami trails the all-time series with the Blue Devils by a count of 7-2. However, the Miami Hurricanes did enjoy a 3-1 win over the Blue Devils earlier this year, earning their first win over Duke in Durham, N.C. The other win came back on Nov. 6, 2002 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament in Madison, Wisconsin. The Hurricanes took the match, 3-0 (30-25, 30-18, 30-20) en route to their only Sweet 16 appearance in school history. Prior to this year, Duke had won the previous five meetings consecutively, including two in Durham.

The Hurricanes lead the all-time series, 5-3 against Wake Forest, but the upstart Demon Deacons shocked the Hurricanes last month in Winston-Salem, N.C. They picked up a 3-0 sweep of the `Canes, stopping UM’s 13-0 record. The `Canes have taken four of the last six matches. But Wake Forest outscored the Orange and Green last year in Coral Gables, 3-0.

Head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch and the Hurricanes will show their support of breast cancer awareness this month while participating in the Dig for the Cure program benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

When the Hurricanes host Wake Forest on Sunday, the `Canes will be one of over 200 programs across the nation participating in the annual event in their support of breast cancer awareness.

In previous years, teams across America in all divisions of the sport have donned pink jerseys and played with pink collegiate volleyballs to show their support. The Dig for the Cure program was started in 2003 by Lisa Marston, a former volleyball coach at UNC Charlotte after her mother survived breast cancer. The D4C foundation hopes to raise $350,000 this year.

In past years, some schools have given away brochures and reading material at matches, as well as having local and national media do features on the program itself.

In the loss to the Virginia Cavaliers last Friday night, sophomore setter Katie Gallagher had 51 assists to give her sole possession of second place all-time in school history for assists. Gallagher passed Mallory James (2001-04) with 2,070 assists to her credit in just two years. She trails all-time leader Jill Robinson (2003-06) by 2,867. Junior outside hitter Genny Mayhew’s 17 digs added her name to an elite group of athletes in UM volleyball history as she moved into the “500 Club”, now holding more than 500 kills and 500 digs in a career.

Against Duke, the Hurricanes are asking all children to wear costumes for the Halloween match. All children wearing costumes will be admitted free of charge. Students are encouraged to wear costumes in support of the Hurricanes as well. It’s a Haunted match at the James L. Knight Sports Complex.

On these dates in history, the records look better than worse for the Orange and Green. Miami owns a record of 10-2 on matches played on Halloween, while going just 2-3 on Nov. 2 matches. That gives the `Canes a record of 12-5 in matches played on these dates throughout history.