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@CanesVB Outlasts Louisville, 3-2

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Career days by Olga Strantzali and Anna Haak led the University of Miami volleyball team past Louisville in a five-set thriller on Sunday.

The Hurricanes (11-13, 5-7 ACC) were resilient on the road this weekend, playing two five-set matches. After beating Notre Dame in five on Friday night, Miami defeated Louisville (7-15, 2-10 ACC) on its home floor to close out a 2-0 weekend.

“We’re learning that it doesn’t have to be perfect,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “Today we were good enough for longer periods of time and we did it in this environment when it got difficult.”

The Canes got off to a fast start at the KFC Yum! Center, taking a 9-3 lead in the opening set before Louisville called timeout to try and slow Miami’s momentum. The Hurricanes’ attack would prove to be too much for the Cardinals, as Miami hit .571 en route to a 25-16 victory in the first set.

The second set proved to be a battle as no team led by more than two points until Louisville took six straight points to build a five-point lead, 17-12. But Miami took four of the next five points to force a Louisville timeout at 18-16. The Cardinals won five of the next seven points to build a 23-18 lead and never looked back, evening the match at one set apiece with a 25-20 victory in the set.

Louisville carried its strong play into the third set, taking a 10-7 lead, but Miami won eight straight points to jump ahead, 15-10. The Cardinals would not give up, cutting Miami’s lead to one, 19-18, before Gandara called timeout to regroup. The timeout proved effective, as Miami took two straight points and forced a Louisville timeout. The Cardinals would battle back and get within one, 24-23, before Miami took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-23 win in the third set.

Miami opened the fourth set up, 4-1, but Louisville evened the set at 4. The Cardinals would build a 10-7 lead, but the Hurricanes would even the set at 10. Louisville jumped back ahead, 14-11, but the Canes took three straight points to tie the set at 14. Miami would take a 21-18 lead, but Louisville continued to fight and tied the set at 21. The battle continued into extra points, with Louisville forcing a decisive fifth set after a 30-28 win in the fourth.

The Canes and Cards closed out the afternoon with a thrilling fifth set. The two sides traded points until Louisville took an 11-9 lead. The Cardinals led 12-10, but the Hurricanes won three straight points to take their first lead of the set, 13-12. Miami took two of the next three points to win the fifth set, 15-13, and the match.

Two days after a career performance at Notre Dame, Strantzali set a new career high with 30 kills to rank tied for second in a single match in UM history. The junior also had her eighth double-double of the season, finishing with 12 digs, three blocks and three service aces.

“It helped to play 10 sets in one weekend, so I got a lot of opportunities to swing,” Strantzali said. “My team trusts me and I did my job and so did everyone else. This was a lot of fun. It’s great to win two games in a row on the road. We had so much fun out there today.”

Haak also set a new career best in kills, tallying 19 to go with eight digs, two services aces and a block. Kolby Bird registered 11 kills on a .350 hitting percentage, adding four digs and two blocks.

“It was so much fun to win that match,” Haak said. “We split the first two sets and it was great to come back and win the match and I was happy I could contribute to that.”

Lucia Pampana had seven kills and three blocks, while fellow middle hitter Sakile Simmons had four kills on a team-high .571 attack percentage and added a pair of blocks.

Hannah Sorensen posted her second consecutive match with at least 60 assists. The freshman finished with 61 assists and added eight digs and three blocks.

Sylvia Hernandez led all players with a 23-digs and added five assists. Sara Duque had a career-high 12 digs.

“They’re putting in the work and I’m proud of them for that,” Gandara said. “I hope they understand that it is the key to success. It’s been difficult at times, but they’ve been working at it, not just the hitters, but the setters and passers, too. They did it today in a close match and that’s awesome.”

Following this weekend’s matches, the Hurricanes return home for a pair of matches during Homecoming Week. Miami will host North Carolina at 7 p.m., on Nov. 4 and welcomes NC State for a 1 p.m., match on Nov. 6.

All Hurricanes volleyball home matches are played at the James L. Knight Sports Complex on the University of Miami campus. Admission is free. For a complete look at the Hurricanes’ 2016 schedule, click here.

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.