Miami Spikers Enjoy Day in the Sun at Siesta Key

Miami Spikers Enjoy Day in the Sun at Siesta Key

April 20, 2009

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Siesta Key, Fla. – The University of Miami participated in their last event of the 2009 spring season Saturday, Apr. 18, fielding four teams in this year’s Fiesta on Siesta Key in the Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge at Siesta Key, Fla. The event was shown live on ESPNU while also being streamed through CBS College Sports Online.

The rules for this year’s event were as follows: Teams are first put in pool play, followed by a re-seeding process pairing teams into three different divisions. The two top teams venture into the Gold Division, followed by the Silver Division and then Bronze Division. Teams are first seeded by record and then by total points allowed.

“The Collegiate Beach Volleyball Challenge is a great event,” commented UM head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, honored this past season as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coach of the Year. “Participating for our second year in a row, you could see that the competition is growing and that more and more programs want to be a part of it.”

Miami began the tournament fielding four teams, including top-seeded Lane Carico and Cassie Loessberg–a lethal combination of defense and offense. Beside them was the squad of Ariell Cooke and Katie Gallagher, a budding team with an experienced setter [Gallagher] and a rising star hitter [Cooke] for the `Canes.

The other two teams for Miami consisted of Maria Andersson and Lici McGee, as well as the squad of Griffin Udelson and Ali Becker. All four teams earned valuable playing experience in the event.

The Hurricanes’ began pool play in Pool Six with Cooke and Gallagher first defeating USF’s duo of Caitlyn Breen and Kelsey Palmer in two-sets, 21-15 and 21-6. They turned around and defeated Webber International’s squad of Yolanda Owens and Kerri Romaniszyn in two sets, 21-12 and 21-9.

Cooke and Gallagher suffered their only loss of pool play against Florida State’s Taylor Wilson and Rachael Morgan on a 21-16, 21-13 line to finish-up 2-1 in Pool Six competition.

“It was fun playing beach volleyball on Saturday,” expressed Cooke afterwards. “The weather was great, and the sand was soft. However, beach volleyball is different because it requires unique dynamics between you and your partner. You have to become more involved in the game with different strategies and more communication to win.”

Over in Pool 14, Miami’s top-seeded Carico/Loessberg connection went 3-0 in pool play, first taking down Notre Dame’s Kellie Sciacca and Frenchy Silva in two sets–21-16 and 21-10. They followed that up with a 21-3, 21-8 defeat of Webber International’s Heather Allshouse and Cindy Eurie in their second match. The sweep was concluded with Miami’s 21-17, 21-8 victory over Jacksonville’s team of Brittany Lehman and Kathryn Kane.

Pool 14 continued with Udelson/Becker winning, losing and tying a match, respectively, splitting a contest with the Savannah College of Art & Design. They opened their three-match swing with Stetson’s Christie Johnson and Megan Stewart, taking down the Hatters’ duo in two sets (21-12, 21-12). They then split with SCAD (14-21, 22-20), before completing their last match–a 21-8, 21-16 loss to USF’s team of Allie Boaz and Mollie Echols.

In Pool 20, UM fielded their fourth team of the event, consisting of Maria Andersson and Lici McGee. They opened their day with a rousing 21-17, 21-5 defeat of Stetson’s Kaylee Ream and Sabrina Dodd. The Andersson/McGee duo fell in their next match (21-11, 21-18) to Notre Dame’s Christina Kaelin and Beth Wildermuth. Their final matchup was an exciting two-set setback to FSU’s Stephanie Neville and Nikki Baker on a 21-19, 21-16 line effort.

After pool play, Loessberg and Carico led all participants leading into the playoffs as the No. 1 point’s leaders.

“We were very pleased with our results in pool play, and that all of our teams advanced to the top two divisions of playoffs,” stated Lantagne Welch. “Particularly, Cassie and Lane took control of their pool, and Katie and Ariell stepped it up to also to advance into the Gold bracket.”

In the playoffs, just one set is scored with the winner advancing to the next round.

As the matches moved into the playoff divisions, Miami had the top-seeded team for the Gold Division in Carico/Loessberg. However, the UM duo was upset in the opening round of the playoffs against Notre Dame’s Kristen Dealy and Serinity Phillips, 21-14.

“I had so much fun playing with Cassie on the sand,” stated Carico. “We both love defense, and the sand is awesome for diving compared to a gym floor. It was a great experience, and we came across some really good teams. I can’t wait to play in Siesta Key again next year.”

Also falling in the Gold Division was Miami’s team of Cooke/Gallagher, 21-10, to USF’s Marcela Gurgel and Jarka Havlickova in the opening round. The Bulls’ duo eventually went on to win the Gold Division title, defeating Florida Atlantic’s Fesi/Puente duo in the finals.

In the Silver Division playoffs, Andersson and McGee defeated FSU’s Mira Djuric and Courtney Zuber, 21-18, in a thrilling opening match. They would be the only Hurricanes’ duo to advance to the second round of competition, however, as teammates Udelson and Becker were downed by FAU’s Kristyna Dzmuranova and Katie Arvidson, 21-15.

“In the playoffs, Maria and Lici really put together a couple of great games back-to-back to make a run in the Silver Division, including Maria serving five-straight points in a tight game to finish off FSU and advance,” commented Lantagne Welch.

In the second round of the Silver Division, McGee and Andersson matched up against the Jacksonville Dolphins. It was a battle of the first coast team in Florida against the southernmost school in the state. McGee and Andersson put on a show for the ages, as the match lasted longer than any other on the day, rolling through a combined 56 points.

In the end, McGee and Andersson suffered a tough 29-27 setback to JU’s team of Lehman and Kane.

Beach volleyball is vastly becoming a widely-revered sport around the country. A lot of collegiate teams are beginning to participate in beach-sanctioned events throughout the spring practice/schedule period, especially teams in Florida.

“It felt great to be back on the beach Saturday,” said Loessberg. “I love being out there on the sand, and being able to utilize every volleyball skill, instead of just focusing on defense and serve-receive. It was awesome playing with Lane, especially since she’s a California vet, and she is an all-around great player. We played hard Saturday, but unfortunately things didn’t go the way we wanted in the playoffs. Overall, it was just a great experience!”

For more information on the University of Miami Hurricanes volleyball program, please log on to Then proceed to the volleyball home page where you will find rosters, statistics and up-to-date information on the Hurricanes Volleyball team.