@CanesVB Sweeps Florida A&M in Season Opener
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For the third straight season, the University of Miami volleyball team began its season with a victory on its home floor.
The Hurricanes (1-0) swept Florida A&M, 3-0, at the James L. Knight Sports Complex Friday night. With the victory, Miami has now won nine consecutive season opening matches. The Hurricanes improved to 14-2 in season openers and 13-3 in home openers since the program returned to action in 2001.
“I liked the focus,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “I thought we stayed on our side, did what we wanted to do and didn’t pay attention to the score or what they were doing. We wanted to focus on ourselves and I thought we did a pretty good job of that. There were a couple hiccups here and there, and that’s to be expected, but tomorrow we will have another chance to work on that.”
The Canes took the first set against Florida A&M, 25-12, thanks to an efficient attack. Miami hit .389 in the opening set, led by sophomore Anna Haak’s eight kills and 6.36 attack percentage. The Canes also got six kills from junior Olga Strantzali, while setter Haley Templeton dished out 15 assists.
Miami went into the intermission up 2-0 after winning the second set, 25-19. Haak and Strantzali continued to pace the Hurricanes’ attack, combining for 10 kills in the set against the Rattlers.
“I have been waiting for this game since the end of last season,” Strantzali said. “Game after game, we will get better. It’s always good to start with a win because that just gives us more confidence for the next one.”
A balanced and efficient Hurricanes’ attack would help Miami secure the third set, 25-18, and the match. The Canes hit .345 with six different players recording a kill in the final set.
Strantzali and Haak were a dynamic duo on the attack for Miami, combining for 32 kills and each hitting over .350 for the match. Strantzali, a Preseason All-ACC selection, finished with 16 kills and a team-best .406 hitting percentage. The junior also added eight digs, two blocks and two assists in the match.
Haak’s night was equally as stellar, tallying 16 kills and a .375 hitting percentage to go with seven digs, three blocks and two assists.
“I’m so happy and so excited about how the game went,” Haak said. “We have some stuff to work on, but I am definitely happy about getting our first win of the season. I am looking forward to improving and getting better as a team.”
Templeton lived up to her Preseason All-ACC accolades on Friday night, distributing 32 assists and helping the Canes hit .333 as a team. The junior setter also has seven digs, three kills, two blocks and a service aces in her first appearance of the 2016 season.
Sophomore Lucia Pampana made an impact at the net, recording a team-high seven blocks to go with three kills on the night. Fellow middle blocker Sakile Simmons added two kills and a block, while freshman middle blocker Madison Dill had a kill and two blocks in her Hurricanes debut.
Junior Brooke McDermott had four kills, four blocks, eight digs and a team-best two services aces, while hitting .400 in her first start. Libero Codi Lee led the Canes with nine digs and had five assists, while defensive specialists Sylvia Hernandez and Sara Duque contributed off the bench. Hernandez had six digs and two assists, while Duque had an assist in her first collegiate volleyball match.
“Olga and Haley are preseason all-conference selections, but Anna was freshman of the week at the end of last season and Brooke has been playing well throughout training camp,” Gandara said. “We have a lot of players that are playing well.”
The Hurricanes will play two matches Saturday to close out the UM/FIU Invitational. The Canes will play at FIU at 11:30 a.m., before returning to their home floor for a match against Coastal Carolina that is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The match against Coastal Carolina will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra.
All Hurricanes volleyball home matches are played at the James L. Knight Sports Complex on the University of Miami campus. For a complete look at the Hurricanes’ 2016 schedule, click here.