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Canes Split Orange & Green Scrimmage

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team held its annual Orange & Green Scrimmage Saturday at the James L. Knight Sports Complex.

Orange and Green split the four-set scrimmage, with Team Orange winning sets 1 and 3 and Team Green taking sets 2 and 4 (12-25, 25-22, 22-25, 27-25). The final set featured 15 tied scores – as many as the other three combined – and seven lead changes before it was decided in extra points with a service ace by senior middle blocker Sakile Simmons.

“It’s always fun to play your first match in front of your home crowd,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “That’s a big part of this night. We get to see how we did in preseason – where things fall in place – and discover new things that had not shown up yet.”

Junior outside hitter Kolby Bird finished with a match-high 25 kills, including a set-winning kill for each team. Bird also combined for four digs, two solo blocks and an assist while playing on both sides of the net.

“It feels amazing to play again with everyone,” Bird said. “We are super excited for this season. Everyone is healthy, which was a big problem last year. It was so much fun to play today with the jersey on and we are going only upwards from here.”

Freshman outside hitter Cameron Dobbs turned heads in her unofficial debut as a Hurricane, picking up 21 kills, two aces, three digs and a block assist.

“I like what Cam has done,” Gandara said. “She’s had a really good preseason camp. She’s a pretty mature kid, composed and she did a nice job.”

“It was a big rush, for sure, to be out here, to play against a college team and college girls, and it wasn’t even a real match.” Dobbs said. “It was amazing. I just had a big smile on my face for every point, whether we were winning or losing. The girls are awesome. I am completely overjoyed in every moment I spent with them.”

Senior outside hitter Olga Strantzali picked up where she left off last season, recording 17 kills and three assists on the offensive end. In addition, the 2016 AVCA All-America honorable mention contributed six digs and two blocks to the defensive efforts. Those were led by her teammate on Team Orange, sophomore libero Carly Davey, who had 15 digs. Davey played a part offensively as well, adding two assists and three service aces.

Team Green’s setter, sophomore Hannah Sorensen, edged her redshirt junior counterpart Haley Templeton by two assists with 37 in total, but Templeton had two more kills with four and eight of Team Orange’s 12 aces on the day.

Middle blocker Lucia Pampana, the other junior on the Hurricanes’ roster in addition to Bird, was excellent in attack and accounted for eight kills on a .500 hitting performance.

With a lineup highlighted by Preseason All-ACC selections Templeton and Strantzali, Team Orange struck first and cruised to a 25-12 victory in the opening set, hitting .632 in the process. Bird led the team with five kills in the set, including one that gave Orange a double-digit lead at 16-6 and the one that put the set to rest shortly after. Team Green jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the set with the first of Sorensen’s three aces in the match, but Team Orange responded by taking seven of the next eight points to build early momentum in the opening set.

Bird continued impressing after she switched sides and joined Team Green in the second set, picking up nine more kills – including the set-winning kill – which tied the match at a set apiece. The final point was the first time in the set in which a team led by as many as three points. Sorensen was the catalyst of Green’s attack with 12 assists in the second set alone. Team Orange led by two points twice early on when Templeton and sophomore middle blocker Madison Dill stopped Green attacks for 9-7 and 10-8. Team Orange had eight of the 10 team blocks in the second set.

The third set looked much like the first one, as Team Orange came back with vengeance and won the first six points of the set. The cushion had already grown to double digits when Dobbs picked up her first collegiate ace for 15-4. Back-to-back aces by Sorensen started a three-point Team Green run and cut the deficit to seven at 17-10. A kill by Simmons put Team Orange within seven points at 19-12, but Team Green went on its match-best 9-3 run to force an Orange timeout at 22-21. Experience was the decisive factor in the set, as two kills by Strantzali and an ace by her classmate Sylvia Hernandez allowed Team Orange to hold on to the set, 25-22.

Dobbs was instrumental in helping Team Green overcome a four-point deficit by scoring three straight Green points to tie the fourth set at 15 all. The set got only more dramatic, as it entered the closing stage with the teams tied at 23. Team Green was first to have a set point, but Bird tied the score at 24 with her final kill. Team Orange had an opportunity to come out of the match as a winner, but back-to-back kills by Dobbs and Simmons’ timely ace won the set for Team Green, 27-25.

Miami will open the season at the Southern Miss Invitational on Aug. 25-26, the first of four non-conference tournaments on the 2017 Canes schedule. The Canes will open the season on August 25 at 1 p.m., against Little Rock, before playing at Southern Miss at 8 p.m., that night. Miami will wrap up the opening weekend with a match against Nicholls State on Aug. 26 at 11 a.m.
 
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