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@CanesVB Opens Hurricane Challenge with Win

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Canes defended their home court, opening the Hurricane Challenge with a three-set win over UNCG.

Miami defeated UNCG, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-14, to earn their fourth home victory of the season. Head coach Jose ‘Keno” Gandara was happy to see his team translate the concepts being taught in practice into a game situation.

“It’s important because we got to work on stuff that we had been doing in practice and it’s not always easy to do it in-game,” Gandara said. “That’s where we’re at in our progress right now. It’s definitely good to win. It’s nice to see the stuff we were working on show again in the games and some of the stuff we had lost last weekend.”

Taylor Scott led the way for Miami’s attack in the first set, registering seven kills. Savanah Leaf and Sakile Simmons each added three kills, while Leaf added a pair of service aces in the opening set victory.

“I was just really comfortable with Haley [Templeton],” Scott said. “She was setting dime pieces. She made it so easy for me, so I give her all the credit, really. My team was passing, so it was a just a good feeling.”

Miami hit .323 in the second set and Leaf led all Hurricanes with six kills.  Haley Templeton, who dished out 12 assists in the second set, closed out the 25-20 victory with a service ace.

The third set featured a Miami attack led by Leaf and Scott, who combined for nine kills. Leaf, who finished with a match-high 15 kills and three service aces, hit .433 on the night.

“It feels really good to get this win,” Leaf said. “The connection was a lot better, especially playing in front of our home fans. They make us feel at home and I think our focus was better this game. We had a lot more energy. We were a lot more together. We set out some goals before the beginning of the match and I think we definitely all achieved those goals, so I was happy with that.”

Scott finished the night with 13 kills and a .417 attack percentage. Middle blockers Sakile Simmons (five) and Emani Sims (four) combined for nine kills, while Kelsie Groot added four kills and an ace.

Templeton finished the night with 36 assists and three service aces, as well as a team-high seven digs.

“We’re in much better rhythm,” Gandara said. “Hitters are doing a better job getting their spots and rhythm and the setters are more consistent and that’s exactly what we were. We have to find consistency in what we’re trying to do and stay in that process and then the results will come. Believing the results are going to come if we keep doing our jobs.”

The Canes will face UNCG on Friday at 7 p.m. UNCG and Missouri are slated to play on Saturday at 11 a.m. Admission is free to all matches.

“Tomorrow’s game is going to be a little bit tougher,” Scott said. “So this match helps us build confidence for that. I think that will help us a lot and then we try to carry our momentum into tomorrow night.”

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