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@CanesVB Wins Opener over Seton Hall, 3-0

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Savanah Leaf’s 20 kills helped propel the University of Miami volleyball team to victory on Opening Night of the 2014 season.

The Hurricanes swept Seton Hall, 25-20, 26-24, 25-22, to clinch a victory in their opening match of the Hurricane Invitational. A crowd of 521 witnessed a three-set win that head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara felt was a good start to his team’s season.

“You see them in practice and you kind of look for certain things,” Gandara said. “When you put them out on the court in a game situation, sometimes some other stuff comes up. It’s always exciting to see where we’re at in that environment. I like that we rebounded when we had to. I think we can focus a little bit better and kind of keep the edge going. But, it was a good match for us and they’re a different team than ours. We play a different style of play and it’s not always easy to adjust. We came back in the middle of the first game and that helped us through the match.”

Miami took the first set thanks to a strong showing by senior captain Savanah Leaf and junior outside hitter Taylor Scott. Each Cane contributed four kills in the opening set, while junior Kalysta White added a pair of service aces to help Miami take a 1-0 lead in the match.

Leaf was really active in the second set, adding seven more kills including a powerful one to secure the 26-24 win.

“We expect big matches from her,” Leaf said. “She has the ability to do that every night. In the middle of the second game she kind of got more aggressive and that’s the Savanah we want to see out there.”

Scott and Leaf continued to lead the Miami attack in the third set, combining for 16 of the Canes’ 18 kills in the match-clinching set. Scott, who finished with 13 kills and eight digs,) had seven kills in the final set of the night.

“It’s the best way we can start the season,” Leaf said. “For us, I think it definitely showed us that we have some things to work on. We’re definitely excited to get that home win to start us off, start building up for the next games to come.”

Freshman setter Haley Templeton dished out 40 assists in her Hurricane debut. The Alpharetta, Ga., native also had three powerful kills that caught the Seton Hall defense by surprise.

Middle blockers Emani Sims and Sakile Simmons each had three blocks. Sims, a senior, added six kills and a pair of service aces, while the freshman Simmons had a pair of kills.

Sophomore Kelsie Groot had five kills and 13 digs in her season debut, while junior Kalysta White led the Canes with 21 digs and added a pair of aces.

“We were a little bit streaky at times,” Gandara said. “We had some good rhythm. We’ve seen that in practice, so it’s a function of doing it in a game and in a situation with the emotions and the ups and downs of the match and just being able to stay at our level.”

The Hurricanes are back in action Saturday for their final two matches of the Hurricane Invitational. Miami will face Florida A&M at noon and Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. Admission is free to both matches.

For all the latest information on Miami Hurricanes volleyball, follow the official Twitter feed, @CanesVB, or “Like Us” on Facebook at facebook.com/UMVolleyball. The program is also on Instagram.