CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Behind a match-high 18 kills by sophomore middle blocker Emani Sims, the University of Miami volleyball team defeated Duke, 3-1, on Friday at the Knight Sports Complex. The Canes have now won 11 straight at home and 22 of the last 23.
UM won by set scores of 25-18, 19-25, 29-27 and 25-21 to improve to 11-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Duke dropped to 9-6 and 0-3.
"I thought it was a high-level volleyball match tonight," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "Duke forced us to raise our level of with their great defense. We had to be patient and our middles played really well. It is always challenging to win an ACC match."
Sims tied her career high with 18 kills, a mark she also reached earlier this season against Middle Tennessee (Sept. 15). In addition, the middle blocker recorded seven total blocks on the front line to keep the pressure on the opponent and had a hitting percentage of .395.
"Emani is hard to stop when she is on," Lantagne Welch commented. "She was able to make herself available on both transition and serve-receive to be a force in the middle."
Sophomore Alexis Mourning concurrently matched her career high with 16 kills on the night. Also a middle blocker, she combined for five total blocks, as Miami recorded five more total team blocks than Duke (12.0-7.0).
Defensively, junior libero Ryan Shaffer picked up 22 digs to lead the Canes, while sophomore outside hitter Savanah Leaf had 20 digs of her own. Senior setter Nrithya Sundararaman put up a match-high 46 assists.
In the first set, the Canes won three-straight points after breaking a 10-10 tie and never looked back to win the opener, 25-18. Sims had six kills in the set. However, the Blue Devils responded by putting together an 11-4 run in the middle of the second and pulled away to even the match at one.
The pivotal third set, which included eight ties, proved to be the difference in the contest. Miami surged ahead late to go up 23-20, but Duke won the next three points to even. UM had a chance to win it after a kills by Sims, but a Blue Devil block forced extra points. Duke then took the next point to give themselves set point and nearly won it on a kill, but a great defensive effort by UM led to another Sims kill. The Canes fended off two more set points and rallied to seal it on an ace by junior right side Alex Johnson. It was the seventh set this year that went extra points for UM.
"That set was a good challenge for us," Lantagne Welch said. "It was a situation we can refer back to when we are facing set points in the future. We held our composure and stayed steady throughout and took advantage of the opportunities when they presented themselves."
The fourth set was just as taxing and featured 11 ties and five lead changes. After winning a point to go up 17-16, the Canes slowly edged away and took advantage of some opposing hitting errors to win the set and the match.
For the match, Miami collected 56 kills and 83 digs. Junior outside hitter Taylor Hollins recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 10 kills and 14 digs.
Duke was led by 37 digs by libero Ali McCurdy, while Jeme Obeime had 11 kills.
The Canes will look to continue their dominance at home on Sunday in a match against Wake Forest. The contest will start at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
The UM Ticket Office is pleased to offer season tickets for both volleyball and soccer for just $50. Season tickets to the home volleyball schedule at the Knight Complex can be purchased for $35, with single match tickets available for as low as $3. Call 1-800-GO-CANES to order your tickets today.
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