Miami Volleyball Looks to Get Back on Track This Weekend

Miami Volleyball Looks to Get Back on Track This Weekend

Nov. 6, 2008

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Coral Gables, Fla. – After collecting their 20th win of the season last weekend, the Hurricanes look to get back in the hunt for the ACC title this weekend when they travel to Maryland and Boston College for huge ACC showdowns. Miami has not won both matches of a single ACC road swing since 2007 when they defeated Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The Hurricanes fell from a tie for second place to a tie for fifth place last weekend as they lost to Wake Forest for the second time this year. It was the first time UM had been swept in a season by WFU. However, two days prior, the Hurricanes collected their first-ever season series sweep of Duke, and their first-ever victory over the Blue Devils in Coral Gables.

After last weekend’s loss to Wake Forest, head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch knows her team is better prepared for this weekend after losing their first home match of the year, snapping a string of 13 consecutive wins at the James L. Knight Sports Complex.

“In sports, you always learn more about yourself and your team in a loss than you do coming off a win,” expresses Lantagne Welch, now enjoying her best season since 2003. “We have a new sense of urgency in making our defense stronger now, and we look forward to that test against Maryland on Friday. We also know that our serve-receive offense has to be on to win any match. Maryland pushed us to the limits here [in Coral Gables], and we expect to have to give them our best effort in order to get the outcome we desire.”

This weekend brings a lot of scenarios to the table for the `Canes. If they win both games, they will not only avenge last year’s loss at Boston College, but also pick-up their first-ever win on the road to the Terps of Maryland. UM is also seeking a way to get back into the top four of the ACC standings as all four teams above them have tough matchups this weekend, including Clemson at Duke and Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

If Miami sweeps this weekend, they could very easily climb back to a tie for second place in the league standings.

Once again, the Miami Hurricanes enter the weekend looking for a chance to get them back into the race for the ACC title. After finishing in second place midway through the first half, the `Canes started off the second half with another split with Duke and Wake Forest. UM defeated Duke in straight sets at home last weekend, but fell once again to Wake Forest in straight sets.

The Hurricanes are riding their best overall record since joining the ACC, and the best record since 2003 (22-9, 9-3 Big East). However, they are still three wins away from tying their best win total in ACC play as they collected 11 wins in both 2004 and 2005, but finished 17-9 (2004) and 16-14 (2005) overall. The current 20-5 record is just the third 20-win campaign since the program was brought back in 2001.

Miami has never won at Maryland, but they did take solace in the fact that they did knock off the Terps earlier in the year at home. For UM, it was just the third time in history they’ve defeated the Terps in 10 attempts.

Miami trails Clemson by two matches in the ACC race, and is currently tied for fifth place with Virginia Tech, who would earn a head-to-head decision over the `Canes after defeating them in Blacksburg two weeks ago. However, UM is just a half-match out of second place as they’ve defeated all three teams with a loss better than the Hurricanes … Georgia Tech (once), Duke (sweep) and North Carolina (once).

The Hurricanes have been getting a very solid hitting performance from Genny Mayhew of late, and the play of Lane Carico has been as solid as ever. The best play, however, of the last four or five matches for UM has come from two seniors in Ashley Woods and Angelica Ellis. Both players have been very solid on kills at the net, and their blocking has been very sharp.

UM has been seeing several double-doubles of late as at least one player has had a double-double in a match since Oct. 18 against North Carolina. This weekend does pose a problem for UM in the fact that Maryland uses a two-setter system, and that has caused problems for the `Canes this season in some matches. They were unable to solve the two-set attack from Wake Forest, as well as Virginia Tech.

The Hurricanes have not won both matches in a road series this year, and, in fact, have not won both matches in a road stretch since Sept. 20-21, 2007 when they defeated Virginia (3-2) and Virginia Tech (3-2). UM is seeking its first road win since Oct. 4 when they defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Maryland snapped their 10-match losing skid last weekend with a win over North Carolina State, but fell the two days later against North Carolina, 3-0. Maryland sits with a very unusual record of 6-19 (2-11 ACC), but still is one of the more scrappy teams in the league, and extremely talented. The Terps’ Mary Beth Brown moved into third place in school history in the blocks category two weeks ago with three blocks against Wake Forest. She now holds 424 blocks in her career for UM.

The Terps are led by Katie Usher with 225 kills on the campaign while also holding a team-best 79 blocks under her belt. Behind her on offense is Maggie Schmelzle with 168 kills and a team second-best 243 digs. The offense is set up by setters Hayley Hanson (427 assists) and Sharon Strizak (304 assists).

The Boston College Eagles enter this weekend’s matches with a record of 7-18 (1-12 ACC). They are led by the powerful play of outside hitters Jordan Meredith (267 kills / 185 digs) and Taylor Williams (221 kills / 26 service aces). The team picked up their first ACC win of the season last weekend when they defeated N.C. State at home, 3-0.

The University of Miami has never won at Maryland, and looks at a record of 0-4 all-time in College Park. The `Canes earned just their third win all-time against the Terps earlier this season at home in the James L. Knight Sports Complex. The Terps hold a commanding 7-3 advantage in the series, but Miami has split with Maryland in the series the past two years. This year could be the first-ever series sweep. Maryland, however, has won three of the last five meetings, but UM took the last matchup 3-1 in Coral Gables earlier this year on Oct. 12.

UM holds a dominating 6-1 advantage in this series that dates back to both teams’ Big East days, but the good news for BC … they defeated the `Canes in their last strip to Chestnut Hill, 3-0. Miami took the earlier matchup between these opponents with a record setting night, 3-0, as the `Canes hit .416 in the match. For UM, it was their best hitting percentage as a team since 2004.

It’s been since 2007 that Miami captured a road sweep of matches. The last time UM had a road sweep was at Virginia and Virginia Tech. Earlier this year, Miami came away with their first road series consecutive setback as they lost both matches against UVA and Virginia Tech last month.

The upcoming dates in history have been less than desirable for the Hurricanes throughout history. Miami holds a 2-4 record on matches played on Nov. 7, and just a 1-4 mark on Nov. 9. They collected a 1-3 record on Nov. 9, 1981 with losses to Miami-Dade South, Florida International (now referred to as FIU) and Florida Southern. Their one win came against Central Florida (now referred to as UCF). The last time they played a match on either of these dates was a 3-0 loss to Maryland on Nov. 9, 2007 in Coral Gables.