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@CanesVB Beats Clemson on Senior Night, 3-1

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team closed out the 2013 regular season with a four-set victory over Clemson.

Miami (19-11, 12-8 ACC) honored seniors Julia Giampaolo, Alex Johnson and Ryan Shaffer prior to the match against Clemson. Each senior ran through the smoke for the final time as Hurricanes and all three were honored on the court for their dedication and contributions to Miami volleyball. All three players were joined by their families for the special moment.

“It’s a special night because they’re here,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “It’s also a special night because from Day One we said we want to play our best volleyball at the end of the year. It was nice to see and those girls all contributed so it’s a good ending.”

Shaffer’s serves helped the Canes scored nine straight points to grab a 13-1 lead early in the first set. Junior Alexis Mourning led a potent Miami attack in the first set, tallying seven kills to help the Hurricanes take the set 25-12.

“It was fun to play with everybody one last time,” Shaffer said. “Everybody was really focused on winning this game.”

The Tigers bounced back to even the match at one set apiece, taking the second set 25-20. Clemson was led by junior Kristen Faust, who tallied five kills in the set. Miami’s Savanah Leaf paced the Hurricanes’ offense in the second set, adding five kills.

“I’m still wondering about Game Two,” Gandara said. “How can we play at a certain level and then lag off? We need to keep fighting and keep responding. Overall, it was a good match.”

With the third set tied at 20, Miami scored four straight points to take a 24-20 lead. The Tigers battled back to come within one, 24-23, but Emani Sims slammed her 10th kill of the night to give Miami the 25-23 third set victory.

Giampaolo entered in the fourth set to serve for Misty Ma’a and all three seniors were on the floor at the same time, helping Miami to a match-clinching 25- 15 fourth-set win.

“It’s really special,” Giampaolo said of winning on Senior Night. “I’m happy that we were able to pull it off. We pulled it together and I was very excited for everyone. It’s great for the team to finish off the season on a good note.”

Miami’s attack was potent as three hitters finished with double-digit kills. Leaf, who tallied a double-double with 17 kills and 14 digs, was Miami’s kill leader. Sims and Mourning each added 14 kills, while Sims led the Canes with five blocks and Mourning was one of four Canes to record at least one service ace.

Setter Caiti Donahoe recorded a double-double, distributing 50 assists and recording 10 digs. The sophomore also added a service ace.  Johnson finished her final home match with eight kills, 10 digs, four blocks and an ace. Ma’a chipped in with five kills and 16 digs, while Shaffer tallied 27 digs and three aces – both team-highs.

“It’s bittersweet,” Johnson said. “It’s been a long four years, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I’m glad we got the win and I’m glad I got to spend the season with my team. They made it really enjoyable for me.”

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