CORAL GABLES, Fla. - No. 24 Miami volleyball put together another convincing performance Sunday to sweep Maryland, 3-0, to complete the regular season a perfect 13-0 at the Knight Sports Complex. The victory sets up a winner-take-all match for the Atlantic Coast Conference title on Friday at Florida State.
The Hurricanes improved to 25-4 and 17-2 in the league, winning by the scores of 25-18, 25-19 and 25-15 over the Terrapins. The 17 conference wins are the most in program history, beating last season's mark of 16.
Prior to the match, the program honored the contributions of senior setter Nrithya Sundararaman, who ranks third all-time in school history with 2,257 career assists. She picked up 35 on the day to orchestrate the offensive performance.
"Nrithya did a nice job of getting the ball to our hitters," head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said. "It is great to have the team functioning so well on this day. Overall, I thought we were able to serve tough and handle our passing pretty well throughout the match. Nrithya put us in some good situations with her sets, which allowed us to be effective on offense. Also, we were able to pick up our defensive efforts as the match went on."
Junior right side Alex Johnson led the Canes with 10 kills, reaching double-digits for the 13th time this season. Sophomores Alexis Mourning and Savanah Leaf added nine kills each, as Miami collected a .283 hitting percentage in the match.
Defensively, junior libero Ryan Shaffer had a match-high 21 digs to help hold the Terps to a .144 hitting percentage. She leads the team with 506 digs (4.77/set) on the season.
The victory was the 17th straight win at home and the 29th in the last 30. The only other season UM had a perfect home regular season was in 1980 (5-0). This year, the Hurricanes won 39 sets at home while dropping only seven.
"It is really hard to go undefeated at home and stay sharp every time out," Lantagne Welch said. "That is always one of goals and to sustain that throughout a season is special."
The Canes came out strong with a 6-2 run to start the match, forcing a Maryland timeout after a combined block by Sundararaman and Mourning. From there, the Terps could get no closer than four, with the lead growing to as many as seven. A visitor ball handling error closed the opener in favor of the Canes.
The second set was tighter towards the end after Maryland won four straight points to make it 18-16. That would be the closest they would get, as Miami won the next two exchanges to reach 20. A 5-3 spurt from the hosts sent the Canes into intermission with a commanding 2-0 lead.
With the momentum in hand, the Hurricanes started the third up 11-2 to take complete control. The advantage went up to as much as 10, with freshmen Misty Ma'a, Eryn Croft and Kelsie Groot helping seal the set and match. It was the 13th straight set won at home.
The Canes collected seven aces in the match to go with nine total blocks to beat Maryland (16-15, 7-12) for the 10th consecutive time. The Canes also defeated the Terps in three sets on Oct. 12 at Comcast Pavilion.
The win now sets up a championship match Friday at Florida State, with the winner taking the ACC title. The contest will be start at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3. Miami defeated the Seminoles in four sets on Sept. 7 at home.
"It is going to be fun - Florida State is a great team and we know that," Lantagne Welch said. "We had a great match with them earlier in the year and we are going to expect their best on Friday. In order to win, we will have to play at our very best. It is setting up for a great situation; everyone in our program is looking forward to it."For all the latest information on Miami Hurricanes volleyball, follow the official Twitter feed, @CanesVB, or "Like Us" on Facebook at facebook.com/MiamiHurricanes.