Miami Set for Key ACC Showdown with UNC and NC State

Miami Set for Key ACC Showdown with UNC and NC State

Nov. 19, 2008

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Coral Gables, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team travels to North Carolina for a pair of matches on Thursday (Nov. 20) and Friday (Nov. 21) with a shot at their first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title on the line against the North Carolina Tar Heels and NC State Wolfpack.

This weekend is critical for Miami (24-5, 12-5 ACC) as they have slowly but surely gotten themselves back near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings. The `Canes are playing exciting volleyball of late having defeated Georgia Tech and Clemson in back-to-back matches for the first time ever in a two-match stretch. It was also Miami’s first time beating Clemson in six attempts, bringing the series record to 7-2 in favor of the Tigers. The `Canes also swept Georgia Tech for the first time in a season series with a 3-2 win at the James L. Knight Sports Complex last Friday night.

UM comes into Thursday night’s match looking for a chance at their first ACC title in school history. With the magnitude of the match and a large crowd expected on hand, the match has been moved to the Dean E. Smith Center on the campus of UNC. The Hurricanes defeated the Tar Heels in their last meeting, 3-1, in Coral Gables. However, since that time UNC has rolled off eight consecutive wins and garnered an ACC Player of the Week nod in Briana Eskola–who shared the award with UM’s Genny Mayhew two weeks ago.

The ACC title is up for grabs with the Tar Heels nursing a one match lead over the `Canes. UNC sits with a record of 13-4, while the Orange and Green hold a 12-5 mark in league play.

UM will need solid play in North Carolina this week as their previous trip to North Carolina ended with a sour note on the back end. After defeating Duke in Durham, a night later in Winston-Salem, the `Canes were swept by Wake Forest to end their 15-match winning streak. History is on the side of the Orange and Green in Raleigh while they hold a 4-0 mark against NC State on the road. However, against UNC the Hurricanes are just 1-3 … and dropped their last three matches in Chapel Hill.

The last time Miami won a match in Chapel Hill was on Oct. 17, 2004 in their first-ever meeting. UM took the match, 3-1 (26-30, 30-27, 30-25, 30-28) in a classic affair.

Live stats for this weekend will be available through Game Tracker at

North Carolina comes into Thursday night’s affair as one of the hottest teams in the ACC, if not the hottest, winning their last eight consecutive matches dating back to a loss in October to UM in Coral Gables. Six of those victories by the Tar Heels have come by way of a shutout performance, including a sweep of rival Duke and in-state foe Wake Forest.

UNC is charged by Lauren Prussing (273 kills) and Suzanne Haydel (245 kills) on offense. In the last meeting, it was UNC’s Courtney Johnston registering 13 kills and Christine Vaughen leading the way with 14 of her own. The Heels look towards Briana Eskola for defense as the one-time Player of the Week has swept up 508 digs to rank her number one in the league in that category. Cassie Loessberg (UM) trails her by just eight digs.

The setter for UNC is a two-set system, again that has caused the `Canes trouble this year, utilized primarily with Stephanie Jansma (625 assists) and then with Erica Behm (408 assists). Ingrid Hanson-Tuntland is second in the league in blocks per set with an average of 1.40.

NC State is a team that is capable of an upset at any time, and a dangerous team for many in the league. The Hurricanes swept the Wolfpack last month in Coral Gables, but the effort of the Pack was not to be outdone. Scores of 25-16, 25-20, 25-17 showed how close each set actually was. They are led by the play of Arlee Tamietti with 311 kills, while teammate Aiwane Iboaya sits behind her with 206 kills to her name. Tamietti also has 243 digs and 65 blocks. The setter for the Pack is Alex Smith with 913 assists under her belt, placing her eighth in the league in that category.

Miami leads this all-time series by the slimmest of margins, 5-4. The 3-1 win over the Tar Heels in Coral Gables last month proved to be the deciding edge in what has been a fantastic series to date. The home team has won every meeting in this series dating back to the first meeting in October of 2004. MIAMI VS. N.C. STATE SERIES… UM holds a commanding 9-0 lead in this series that dates back to 2004. Miami took the last meeting between these teams, 3-0. In fact, five of the nine matches played have been sweeps in favor of the Hurricanes.

For Nov. 20 and 21 throughout history, Miami holds an impressive 11-5 overall mark, including a 7-3 record on Nov. 20. These dates include wins over NC State and UNC, respectively, over the past three years. On Nov. 21, UM is 4-2.

With their 12th ACC win coming last weekend against foes Georgia Tech and Clemson, UM set a new school record for ACC wins. The previous high had been 11 coming in both 2004 and 2005. They are now just one victory away from their first 25-win season since 2002, and just the fourth in school history overall.