Volleyball Hosts Critical ACC Matchups This Weekend

Volleyball Hosts Critical ACC Matchups This Weekend

Nov. 13, 2008

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Coral Gables, Fla. – With a shot at the ACC title still within grasp, the University of Miami volleyball team has two important matches on tap this weekend when they host Georgia Tech (Nov. 14) and Clemson (Nov. 16) to the James L. Knight Sports Complex in Coral Gables, Fla.

Not only is Friday’s match a meeting between two teams just one game out of a share of first place in the league, but the three-way dance that ensues at the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings is against teams Miami has either already swept (Duke), or still has meetings with (Clemson and North Carolina).

“I think that we’ve put ourselves in a position to be in the hunt for the ACC championship, and ever match from here on out is critical with just five matches remaining and the race being so tight” explains head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, who has directed the Hurricanes to their best overall record since joining the ACC. “We’re also trying to do everything we can to get into the NCAA Tournament. There’s no question about the importance of the weekend.”

Miami trails the top three teams by just one match as they all hold similar 11-4 conference marks, and the Hurricanes enter the weekend staking a 10-5 record in league play. The Hurricanes’ record for ACC wins since joining the league in 2004 has been 11 set in that same season, as well as 2005. They have already eclipsed the past two years’ records.

However, Miami has not finished higher than sixth place at the end of the ACC regular season since 2004 when they finished in second place.

The Hurricanes will also be celebrating Senior Day on Sunday when they host Clemson on Sunday afternoon. Miami will be saying “good-bye” to three student-athletes and one manager as they participate in their final home contest wearing the orange and green at the Knight Sports Complex. It’s the final game for Bridget Bomhack, Angelica Ellis and Ashley Woods, as well as manager Kelley Schoonover.

“It’s exciting to honor the careers of our seniors, and at the same time we want to prolong their careers as long as possible,” stated Lantagne Welch. “It’s fun to think back and look back at when they started and see what they’ve become as people and players.”

For more information on this weekend’s matches, please log on to www.hurricanesports.com, or call the University of Miami ticket office at (800) 462-2637.

The University of Miami volleyball team has a two-fold story breaking this weekend as they host two of the league’s most-respected teams in the form of Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Hurricanes have a chance to possibly tie for the lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) race if they can accumulate back-to-back wins against two teams that have posed as tricky antagonists for the `Canes in recent years. The other story line this weekend will be the Senior Day celebration for Bridget Bomhack, Angelica Ellis and Ashley Woods on Sunday afternoon.

UM will have to keep their composure this weekend as they were able to come away from Atlanta with a win last month over the Yellow Jackets, but were unable to solve a powerful Clemson offense a night prior. The ACC regular season title, since there is no post-season tournament, is alive and well with the `Canes as they are in a deadlock in second place with Georgia Tech. Above the Orange and Green by a game are Duke, Clemson and UNC.

Miami swept the Blue Devils this year for the first time in school history, and they have already defeated North Carolina once this year in Coral Gables. UM needs a little help, however, as Duke still needs to drop a match, and UM needs to stay the course and defeat both opponents this weekend.

Miami is seeking their second NCAA Tournament appearance all-time, and their first since the 2002 season when they advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to Nebraska.

The Hurricanes don’t exactly have history on their side this weekend as they have only beaten the Tigers of Clemson once in history (W, 3-2 in Coral Gables on Sept. 30, 2005), and earned just their third victory all-time against the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech earlier this year. But with the Hurricanes playing incredible volleyball this year, earning just their third 20-win season since bringing the program back in 2001–as well as their best overall season since joining the ACC in 2004, the `Canes could be on their way to a historical run.

Georgia Tech comes into this weekend’s matches against UM and FSU after dropping a match with Duke last weekend to bring them into a tie for second place alongside the Hurricanes in the ACC standings. The Yellow Jackets are charged by Talisa Kellogg who’s on the cusp of 300 kills as she now stands with 299. Beside her are Callie Miller (263) and Chrissy DeMichelis (180). The setters for the Rambling Wreck are two-fold, something that has caused the Hurricanes problems throughout the season. They look towards Allie Niekamp (658 assists) before leaning on Mary Ashley Tippins (430 assists) to quarterback the offensive attack.

The defensive efforts of the Yellow Jackets are led by Michelle Kandell with a team-high 420 digs, while Callie Miller supplies the blocking power with 107 blocks (96 assisted).

Clemson comes into this weekend sporting a 19-7 record (11-4 ACC) after winning four of their last five matches. That includes wins over Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, respectively. The Tigers are currently a part of the three-way dance atop the ACC standings with Duke and North Carolina. The preseason ACC champions started off the year in unusual waters with a few tough losses, but have turned it on since earning a 10-2 record since Sept. 27.

They are sparked by the play of two players in the form of Danielle Hepburn (356 kills) and Lia Proctor (333 kills), as well as Kelsey Murphy (980 assists) setting up the offense. The blocks are recorded primarily by Hepburn (136 blocks) and Murphy (104 blocks). The defense is anchored by three players as the Tigers don’t use a “libero” of sorts. The digs are collected by Proctor (250 digs), Murphy (248 digs) and Jeannette Abbott 207 digs). Abbott also has 267 kills on offense to be the third player on Clemson’s squad to have at least 250 kills.

With a win earlier this year in Atlanta, the Hurricanes brought the series down to a manageable distance of 5-3 in favor of the Yellow Jackets. Miami’s win also snapped a three-match losing streak to the Rambling Wreck dating back to Nov. 2, 2006. The `Canes have only been swept once in the series as two matches have been 3-2 losses. The only sweep occurred on Oct. 30, 2004 in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

The Clemson Tigers hold a commanding 7-1 advantage in the series with Miami, winning the previous six meetings in a row dating back to 2005. The last victory for the Hurricanes was back on Sept. 30, 2005 in Coral Gables. The `Canes have yet to taste victory in Death Valley where they hold a 0-5 all-time record. All meetings between these two teams have taken place since UM joined the league back in 2004.

On these dates in history, the Hurricanes hold an impeccable record on Nov. 14, but an even mark on Nov. 16. In matches played on Nov. 14, the Orange and Green is 4-1 all-time with their only loss coming against FIU back in 1974. Some of their big wins have come against Florida and USF back in 1975. In matches played on Nov. 16, the `Canes are 3-3 all-time. They last lost on Nov. 16 when they visited Georgia Tech in 2007.