Miami Opens Season in Midwest at Nike Invitational

Aug. 25, 2010

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Coral Gables, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team will open the 2010 season in the Midwest this weekend, taking part in the Nike Invitational hosted by the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. The four-team tournament begins Fri., Aug. 27, with all matches taking place at McCasland Fieldhouse.

Joining the Hurricanes in this year’s field will be Wichita State, UT Arlington and host University of Oklahoma. Wichita State, Oklahoma and Miami each earned bids to the 2009 NCAA Tournament, with the Shockers of Wichita State advancing to the Round of 32.

As Hurricanes head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch begins her 10th year at the helm in Coral Gables, Miami will open the Nike Invitational against the University of Texas at Arlington on Fri., Aug. 27, at 5 p.m. The following day’s matches for the `Canes will feature Wichita State (10 a.m.) and Oklahoma (7 p.m.), with all times set for Central Standard Time (CST).

This is the first time since 2008 the `Canes are traveling away from the east/southeast to begin the season, winning the Century Tel Premier Tournament hosted by Texas State in San Marcos that same year. UM also picked up the tourney title at the Houston Invitational in Texas back in 2005.

In the last two seasons, the `Canes have begun the year with at least two victories to start things off in a regular season tournament. Under Lantagne Welch, the Hurricanes are 7-2 in season-opening matches, including seven of the last eight–with the lone exception in that stretch being a 3-2 loss at the hands of Hofstra in 2007 as part of the Orange and Green Challenge in Coral Gables.

UM returns nine letterwinners from a season ago, including five starters. Two of those starters returning are All-Atlantic Coast Conference Preseason Team members Lane Carico (Jr., OH) and Lici McGee (Sr., MB).

McGee, a senior middle blocker from Warr Acres, Okla., is making her first appearance to the Preseason All-ACC Team, having a breakthrough season in 2009, ending the year ranked seventh in the league in blocks (117), while finishing second on the UM squad for total points (312) with 371 kills added to her 117 total blocks.

Carico was tabbed to the 2009 Preseason All-ACC Team as well, on her way to earning her second All-AVCA East Region award, and being a 2009 AVCA All-America honorable mention selection. In 2009, Carico led the ACC in kills (506), while leading UM in kills per set average (4.36). She currently holds records for kills in a single-season by both a freshman – finishing with 369 in 2008, and a sophomore with her total from the 2009 campaign.

Overall, Miami has been picked to finish fourth in the ACC by the league’s 12 head coaches, with the poll released just two weeks ago. The `Canes ended the 2009 season tied for fifth in the league, recording an 11-9 record (18-13 overall).

All Matches for the Nike Invitational will feature live scoring through Game Tracker. Log on to the University of Miami (www.hurricanesports.com) and navigate to the volleyball home page and click on the schedule for links to all ‘Canes matches. For more information on the Nike Invitational, visit the Oklahoma athletics website (www.soonersports.com).

Quick Hits on UT Arlington…
The University of Texas at Arlington comes into the 2010 season looking for a fresh start after finishing the year 12-17 (8-8 Southland Conference) in 2009. The Mavericks have all six starters back from last season, as well as the libero. With the addition of four newcomers, the Mavs have high expectations in 2010.

One of the key people back for the Mavs is last year’s leader in kills, Tara Frantz, who led the squad with 232 kills, assisted by Bianca Sauls with 215 kills. Setter Raegan Daniel is back after collecting 869 assists last year. Also back is libero/defensive specialist Alicia Shaffer (393 digs), as well as outside hitter Amanda Aguilera (146k, 227d).

UT Arlington won the only other meeting between the Mavs and `Canes, 3-2, back on Sept. 1, 2007, as part of the Marquette Kick-Off Weekend in Milwaukee, Misc.

Quick Hits on Wichita State…
Wichita State and Miami have met just once prior to this year’s matchup, with that being a 3-0 decision in favor of the Hurricanes on Aug. 31, 2002. The Shockers advanced to the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament before falling to Iowa State.

The Shockers return three starters from that tournament team that ended the year 26-7 overall. Middle blocker Sarah McGee returns after registering 297 kills and 146 blocks last year. Also back is starting setter Mary Elizabeth Hooper, who handed out a team-best 1,335 assists (11.22 aps). Sarah Waldorf is the other starter back for the Shockers, while a key returnee is Lindsey Eckenrode, who ended the 2009 season with 283 kills from her outside hitter position.

Quick Hits on Oklahoma…
This will be third meeting all-time between the University of Oklahoma and Miami in volleyball. The series stands even at 1-1, with the last match coming in favor of the `Canes back in 1979.

The Sooners finished last year with a record of 18-12 (11-9 Big 12), and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, before falling to the University of Southern California.

The Sooners five-of-six starters from last year’s squad, including libero Maria Fernanda who led the team with 489 digs (4.49 dps). Also back is right side/outside hitter Suzy Boulavsky, the leading kills specialist from 2009, leading the Sooners with 320 (3.08 kps). Setter Brianne Barker is also back after recording 1,031 assists a year ago.

The Road More Travelled…
Seven of Miami’s first eight matches of the year will be on the road, so to speak, with tournaments in Oklahoma and Tennessee, respectively. Miami will open with three matches at the Nike Invitational, and then enjoy a brief home match against Florida Atlantic (Aug. 31), before taking back to the road for four matches at the Blue Raider Bash hosted by Middle Tennessee State University.

Two Former `Canes Playing Pro…
Two former Hurricanes teammates, Ashley Woods (2005-08) and Ciara Michel (2004-07), both signed professional contracts in 2010, adding to the growing list of players to play professionally from UM.

Woods played with Club Voleibol in Benidorm, Spain, finishing her UM career ranked in the top 10 in seven categories. Meanwhile, Michel recently signed a contract taking her talents to Alemannia Aachen, a member of Germany’s 14-team national first league, Bundesliga. At UM, Michel established herself sixth all-time in kills (962), seventh in total attempts (1,993) and 10th in kills per set (2.24).