Canes Fall to Iowa State in NCAA Tournament

Canes Fall to Iowa State in NCAA Tournament

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team saw its season come to an end on Thursday, falling to Iowa State in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The Hurricanes (21-10, 14-6 ACC) and Cyclones were in a battle in the opening set. Miami and Iowa State tied three times, but the Cyclones never trailed in the set and closed out a 25-21 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Kelsie Groot was Miami’s top hitter, leading with four kills and a .333 hitting percentage, but Miami struggled to slow ISU’s Jess Schaben. The freshman led the way with six kills, while hitting .429.

Miami took its first lead of the night when it scored the opening point in the second set. The Canes and Cyclones would continue to battle much like the first set, tying nine times and changing leads twice before Iowa State called timeout with Miami leading 13-10. There would be four more ties and three more lead changes, but Iowa State would squeak out a 26-24 win to head into the intermission up two sets to none.

Iowa State jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, but Miami battled back to tie the set at 10. The Hurricanes could not continue the positive momentum, and Iowa State built a 17-12 lead and finished off the three-set win with a 25-20 victory in the third set.

“We had a lot of different people out there in this environment and I like the way we competed under pressure,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “That’s a plus. The result is not what we wanted and we know there were some areas we could have played a lot better.”

Miami’s top attacker was freshman Anna Haak, who recorded a team-high 11 kills, adding three digs, two assists and a block.

Kelsie Groot was the second Hurricane to tally double-digit kills, finishing with 10 kills. The junior added a  team-high 12 digs to record her team-best 11th double-double of the season. Groot, who hit a team-high .320, also added a pair of blocks.

“Every loss hurts, but I think we had a great season,” Groot said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we came out and fought and worked hard and things didn’t go our way tonight.”

Olga Strantzali had seven kills and a dig, while middle blockers Alexis Mourning and Sakile Simmons combined for 11 kills and four blocks. Mourning had six kills and two blocks, while Simmons finished with five kills and a pair of blocks.

“I think we played well, but came up short,” Mourning said. “They are a good team. We didn’t make a couple of plays and they did. It’s been really great playing here and I’m happy about all I have achieved.”

Haley Templeton distributed 28 assists and tied with Groot for the team lead with 12 digs to record a double-double. The sophomore setter also added two blocks and a service ace.

Kalysta White rounded out Miami’s starters and the Hurricanes’ senior libero recorded 11 digs and added eight assists.

Miami also saw seniors Caitlin Donahoe and Taylor Scott, as well as sophomore Sylvia Hernandez contribute on Thursday night. Donahoe had two digs, while Scott recorded a dig and a block. Hernandez finished with seven digs and an assist.

“I’m proud of this group,” Gandara said. “It was great to go to work every day with them. I know we improved a lot from start to finish. For sure, we will get another opportunity to be in this position again and that’s when we need to recall what we learned so we can do better the next time.”

The Hurricanes earned one of the 64 spots in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball field and ws one of four teams participating in the Madison, Wis., portion of the Austin Regional, joining No. 6 Wisconsin, Iowa State and Oregon.

Miami has now earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year under Gandara, the seventh consecutive season and the eighth time in program history.

The Canes, who are 4-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, finished the 2015 season with 21 wins. Miami has now won at least 20 games in two straight seasons under Gandara.

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