Four Canes Tally 10+ Kills in Win at GT
ATLANTA – Four players recorded double-digit kills as the University of Miami volleyball team pushed past Georgia Tech in four sets.
The Yellow Jackets (12-18, 5-12 ACC) started fast, jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set and Miami could never recover. The Canes cut Georgia Tech’s lead to two on multiple occasions, but fell short as the Yellow Jackets took the opening set, 25-21. Savanah Leaf led Miami’s attack with five kills while hitting .333. Middle blockers Sakile Simmons and Emani Sims combined for five kills and each hit 1.000 in the opening game.
“We focused on things we could control and fixing what we needed to change,” Sims said. “They came out like we expected them to, but we responded really well in the second, third and fourth sets.”
Miami (21-7, 14-3 ACC) answered in the second set, jumping out to an 8-1 lead before Georgia Tech called timeout to try and slow the charging Canes. Miami continued to dominate the second set, evening the match with their 25-12 win. Kelsie Groot and Taylor Scott were the top hitters in the second set for the Canes, tallying three kills apiece. Miami hit .400 as a team, while Leaf (.667), Groot (.500), Scott (.429) Sims (.333) and Haley Templeton (.333) each hit over .300 for the set.
“It started off really shaky,” Scott said of the first set. “We didn’t want to start that way, but we regrouped and worked on our passing. We got out middles up and Emani and Sakile did a great job with that. After we regrouped and improved our passing and communication, things started to come together in the second set.”
The Hurricanes continued their strong play in the third set, taking a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-17 victory. Groot and Sims led the Miami attack with four kills a piece, while Simmons chipped in with three kills. Setter Haley Templeton dished out 11 assists and helped Miami hit .379 for the set, but the freshman lefty also ripped two kills to help sway the momentum towards the Canes.
Miami closed out its victory with a 25-23 win in a tight fourth set. Scott led the Canes with five kills in the final set, while Leaf, Groot and Sims each added three kills to help push Miami past the Yellow Jackets. Senior Blair Fuentez and junior Caitilin Donahoe came in off the bench and made an impact, as each added a service ace in the fourth set.
“No one wants to go to Game 5,” Scott said. “You shouldn’t be thinking about a Game 5 ,so we had the determination to go out there and finish it.”
Scott led the way with 12 kills, while Groot, Leaf and Sims each added 11 to round out the quartet of Canes recording double-digit kills against the Yellow Jackets.
Leaf, who added 12 digs, three blocks and three assists, recorded her team-best 12th double-double of the season. Groot, who hit .375, chipped in with seven digs, a block and an assist, while Sims hit an outstanding .733 for the match and tied with Simmons for the team lead with four blocks.
Templeton had an outstanding match, distributing 46 assists and adding 12 digs, four kills, two blocks and an ace. The Alpharetta, Ga., native also surpassed the 1,000-assist mark for the season, registering just the seventh 1,000-assist season in program history.
“It was so much fun to bounce back and beat them after we didn’t play as well as we wanted in the first set,” Templeton said. “Also, I was so happy to play in front of my family and my old teammates and friends. That definitely motivated me a little extra.”
Defensive specialist Sylvia Hernandez led Miami with 14 digs, while fellow freshman Simmons finished the night with eight kills and a .462 attack percentage.
“It really shows how hard we are willing to fight to pull out a win,” Sims said. “We came together as a team in the times we weren’t playing well. We knew Georgia Tech was going to play us hard. I am really glad we came together and pulled it out in a gym that’s really tough to play in.”
The Hurricanes travel to Tallahassee where they will face No. 8 Florida State at 1 p.m. on Friday. Miami dropped a tight battle against the Seminoles earlier this season, falling in five sets on Oct. 5.