Leao Boasts Career High in 3-1 Win Against Syracuse
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – In their return home to ACC play, the Miami volleyball program defeated Syracuse, 3-1, in a night filled with career highs and team bests.
“Every win is huge and we needed this one,” head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “After last weekend being close in some sets, it was nice to get this one.”
Three Canes (8-7, 4-3 ACC) registered double-digit kills in the Canes fourth conference win of the season, with Janet Kalaniuvalu leading with 17 and tying her season high. Kalaniuvalu tied her career high in aces, tallying four of Miami’s six.
Friday featured freshmen dominating from start to finish. Kennedy Prince finished with a career-high .405 hitting percentage after 16 kills. The Houston, Texas native recorded two assists and six digs to end the night, but it was Janice Leao who boasted a career-high 12 kills, besting her previous mark of five. Leao finished with a team-leading five block assists.
“I was able to follow both the offensive and defensive game plan tonight and that’s what made this night great for me,” Leao said. “It was great to get this win and I think I was just able to connect well with my teammates and really follow our plan the whole game.”
In the first set, Syracuse (5-9, 2-5 ACC) hit a match-high .345 with 14 kills and three team blocks. The Orange held the Canes to its lowest hitting percentage of the match at .171 to take the 1-0 lead with a 25-18 set win.
The second set was dominated by the Canes, winning 25-12, its largest margin of victory in a set since the opening set of the season when the Canes defeated Missouri, 25-13. Kalaniuvalu hit a staggering seven kills in the second, notching half of the team’s kills and two of her aces, which were the final two points of the set.
“I think our serve got us going a bit and they hit some balls out, which is something we’re trying to learn from,” Gandara said. “Janet has been serving really well in matches and it’s been awesome to see her grow. She’s been developing her range and it’s going to be huge for us.”
With its best set win of the season in the books, Miami also recorded its longest set of the season, winning set three, 32-30. Prince finished with eight kills and hit .538, leading the Canes to hit .486, overall. The third set saw 16 tied scores and three lead changes, while featuring seven different set points. Freshman Savannah Vach recorded 17 of her 47 assists, totaling 569 after 15 matches.
“To us, it’s just one play at a time and the ability to prolong the set gave us more opportunities and hopefully something we learn from,” Gandara said. “Wouldn’t say we wanted something that long or close, but after 23 on a deuce match, it just showed a lot of maturity and showed us that we are capable of winning.”
In the final set of the match, Miami hit .308 with both Prince and Kalaniuvalu registering four kills each, helping the Canes earn its eighth win of the season.
Miami finished the match with 59 kills, the third-most of the season, and a .328 attack percentage, also ranking as the third-highest this season. The Canes will host Boston College on Oct. 20 at noon for its eighth ACC match of the season.