Volleyball Set For Sunshine State Classic
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami volleyball team will play in its home state this weekend, competing at the 2017 Homewood Suites Sunshine State Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Hurricanes (3-0) began their season with an undefeated weekend at the Southern Miss Invitational, where they picked up victories against Little Rock, Southern Miss and Nicholls State. Senior outside hitter Olga Strantzali was named tournament MVP and was joined by redshirt junior setter Haley Templeton and senior libero Sylvia Hernandez on the all-tournament team. Following her big weekend, Strantzali was named ACC Player of the Week for the third time in her career.
“The first tournament is always hard because you don’t know where you stand compared to other teams,” Strantzali said. “The good thing about us is that we’ve been playing with each other for a long time and that helped us start the season strong while other teams are still trying to figure out their system.”
Freshman outside hitter Cameron Dobbs made some noise in her first competitive weekend as a Hurricane, finishing with 26 kills and 30 digs – second only to seniors Strantzali and Hernandez, respectively. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Elizaveta Lukianova also made her Hurricane debut last weekend, contributing 16 kills against Southern Miss to help Miami fight back from being two sets down. She had 21 on the weekend – third most on the team – and contributed five blocks, second only to junior middle blocker Lucia Pampana’s 13 blocks.
Miami is one of three teams entering this weekend’s tournament undefeated, as FAU and host FGCU have both enjoyed 3-0 starts and have yet to lose a set this season. The Owls defeated Central Connecticut, Stephen F. Austin and Stetson in straight sets at the Stetson Invitational, while the Eagles swept FIU, Georgia Southern and IUPUI at the FGCU Hilton Garden InnInvitational – their first home tournament of the year.
UCF opened the season with a trip to Colorado for the UNC Bears/CSU Rams Classic. The Knights started with a five-set victory over Northern Colorado, but dropped matches to Duke and Colorado State to close the weekend 1-2.
“The 3-0 from last week shows that we are on the right path and gives us confidence for this weekend,” Strantzali said. “This week we worked on some specific stuff that Keno thought we need to improve and we also talked about our errors and how we can minimize them while also doing the right thing when we are under pressure.
“Some keys to success this weekend are to stay focused on our team, try to do exactly what we do in practice and keep doing the right thing, even when things aren’t perfect.”
Following this weekend’s trip to FGCU, the Hurricanes will travel to Philadelphia for their final nonconference road trip of the year. The Canes will face Delaware and Temple at the 2017 Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia Cherry & White Challenge on Sept. 8-9, respectively.
Miami will open the home portion of the season on Friday, Sept. 15, when the Canes will face James Madison in their 2017 UM/FIU Invitational opener. They will then welcome Auburn (10:30 a.m.) and South Alabama (6 p.m.) on Sunday, Sept. 16 as part of the annual tournament.