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@CanesVB Battles Back to Beat UVA, 3-1

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team earned a key ACC victory Sunday, defeating Virginia in four sets.

The Canes (17-7, 10-3 ACC) dropped the first set, 25-23, after battling back from a 15-7 deficit. Virginia (15-11, 8-5 ACC) was on a roll early, but Miami charged back in the latter stages of the set thanks to improved attacks and excellent blocking. Savanah Leaf and Taylor Scott combined for nine kills in the set, while five different Hurricanes recorded at least one block.

“It’s a big win for us,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “That’s a good team, well coached. They’ve challenged almost everybody in the conference. I like how we responded after Game 1. They came out on top early and then we played better and better after Game 1.”

Miami evened the match at one set apiece, taking the second set, 25-17. Freshman Haley Templeton opened the set with back-to-back service aces and clinched the 25-17 victory when she ripped a kill past a pair of Virginia blockers. Miami was aggressive at the net, with six different Canes recording a kill and three players combining for six blocks in the set.

“We got more aggressive,” Gandara said. “We were a little bit against the ropes in game one and then we served tougher. We got a lot of people involved—Kelsie [Groot] had a good day and Taylor [Scott] had a good day. They served well. It was just being more aggressive.”

The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead in the match after winning the third set, 25-21. Miami’s attack was effective, hitting. 375 as a team. The Canes were led by Leaf and Kelsie Groot, whom each had five kills apiece. Groot was efficient with her attacks in the third set, hitting a team-best .833.

Miami closed out its four-set victory with a 25-19 win in the fourth set. Templeton, Scott and senior Blair Fuentez each recorded an ace in the final set, while Scott and Leaf each added four kills to help the Hurricanes defeat the Cavaliers.

“I think it shows how well we can pull together and just move past something bad that happened and build something great and lead to the win,” Groot said.

Leaf led all players with 17 kills, adding seven digs, two blocks and a service ace, while Scott finished with 12 kills, 14 digs, two blocks and an ace. Groot, who led all Canes with a .500 attack percentage, was the third Hurricane to tally double-digit kills. The sophomore finished with 10 kills and 10 digs, recording her fourth double-double of the season.

“I just made sure to take big swings,” Groot said. “I couldn’t do it without Haley’s sets and we started to pass great with Sylvia [Hernandez] in the back row and Savanah. Any one at any moment can take a big swing and bring the energy up for the team. That was big for us.”

Middle blockers Emani Sims and Sakile Simmons combined for 11 of Miami’s 21 total blocks. Sims finished the afternoon with five kills and an ace, while Simmons added two kills against the Cavaliers.

Templeton dished out 40 assists in the victory, finishing the match with three of Miami’s seven service aces. The freshman added eight digs and four blocks. Fellow freshman Sylvia Hernandez tied with Scott for a team-high 14 digs.

Following this weekend’s two-match home stand, Miami will travel to Pennsylvania for a match against Pitt. First serve against the Panthers is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 14.

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.