SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A four-set victory over Syracuse assured that Miami volleyball would finish its opening weekend of conference play undefeated in the ACC.
The Canes (9-3, 2-0 ACC) entered the Carrier Dome fresh off a five-set win over Boston College in their ACC opener Saturday. Miami overcame some difficult circumstances and came away victorious, 3-1.
“It was a tough match,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said. “Not only because of the physical Syracuse team, but because of the logistics of the travel. We got in at 11:30 p.m. and got to the hotel and woke up early, ate and were in the gym by 10:45 a.m. It was a tough trip and we were fortunate to come out with two wins.”
The Hurricanes got straight to work, beating Syracuse 25-18, 22-25, 25-19 and 25-18. It was the first time the two programs met since 2003, when both were members of the BIG EAST.
“We gave up too many points in Game 2,” Gandara said. “Otherwise we played a pretty good game, just gave them too many points. We netted and committed hitting errors and serving errors. But we served better and Games 3 and 4 and didn’t make as many errors. It’s a different game when you do that.”
Savanah Leaf led the Canes with 21 kills and a .347 hitting percentage. Sophomore Misty Ma’a also had a strong match, tallying 15 kills and nine digs. Senior Alex Johnson recorded her sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 kills and 11 digs.
“Savanah is just starting to become more consistent,” Gandara said. “Not just with the numbers, but what she is doing out there for us blocking, serving, passing and hitting. She is getting better in more conditions. She did a great job. This was probably her best weekend so far this year.”
Blair Fuentez kept the Miami attack going, as the junior setter distributed 49 assists against Syracuse. Fuentez also had a team-high four blocks. Junior middle blockers Emani Sims and Alexis Mourning combined for 13 kills and five blocks against the Orange.
While the Canes front line combined for 12 blocks, senior defensive specialist Ryan Shaffer anchored the back row defense with 16 digs. Overall, Gandara is pleased with how his team has progressed over the course of the season.
“I think they’re learning how to be consistent in their approach,” Gandara said. “They know other teams are going to play well and that we need to score some points. They are getting better at being consistent with how we want to play and it’s starting to pay off.”
Despite the fast start in conference play, Gandara knows that he and his team cannot enjoy this weekend’s success for too long. Miami will travel to Clemson and Georgia Tech next weekend for another pair of ACC contests.
“It’s great and we’re fired up that we got two wins, but I know that you can’t hang onto it too long,” Gandara said. “We have Clemson next and we have a short week of practice to get ready for that next opponent.”
The Canes’ next home match is scheduled for Oct. 11 against Pitt. The Hurricanes will host the Panthers at 7 p.m. at the Knight Complex.
Miami volleyball season tickets are available for $35. Canes fans can also purchase a combined season ticket package for volleyball and soccer for $50. Single-game volleyball tickets are just $5 for adults and $3 for youth (Ages 3-17). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit CanesTix.com or call 305-284-2263.
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