A critical road stretch

The volleyball squad will head to North Carolina to take on another pair of ACC opponents. Miami will first face Duke on Friday and then travel a short distance to Winston-Salem to challenge Wake Forest on Saturday.

The ‘Canes are coming off of a significant win against ACC foe Virginia Tech. They were able to defeat the Hokies, who previously topped UM in five games in 2004. The Hokies dominated the score at the start of the first two games, but the ‘Canes were able to overtake their competitors and complete the win.

“We have had some problems finishing out [games] and I think that now we have the attitude that we know we’re never out of a game and a match,” said Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch. “As we are proving that, we are becoming more and more confident. Now we just need to work on starting strong as well.”

The team’s performance did not go unnoticed in the world of ACC volleyball. Middle blocker Francheska Savage was named the conference’s player of the week after totaling 21 kills in the match.

“It’s a huge honor because I don’t think we get much respect in the ACC,” Savage said.

The win enabled the Hurricanes to hold the No. 6 position in the conference, just behind Duke. The two teams are tied in terms of conference records (5-4), but Duke holds a slightly better overall record (11-6). A win against Duke could be crucial later in the season.

“We’re getting toward the end of our first round so we just have to stay motivated and finish. We can’t let up,” said setter Jill Robinson.

In 2004, the ‘Canes fell to Duke in a five-game match at home. On the flip side, they swept Wake Forest in three games. The Hurricanes will be using their experiences, both good and bad, this weekend to improve.

“Duke has a very strong middle,” Lantagne Welch said. “We need to be able to contain that, we need to be able to break their passing, and at the same time, we need to handle the ball better.”

Lantagne Welch said the Hurricanes are confident about the road match and know where their focus needs to be in order to return home satisfied.

“We’re going to new places and new gyms that we haven’t seen because we didn’t travel there last season. I think just getting in there and being aggressive will be key,” Lantagne Welch said. “We’ve done well so far on the road so I don’t think [traveling] is going to be much of an issue. Our focus will be executing our game plan and definitely getting comfortable right away.”

Robinson said the team is certain of what it wants to gain from this weekend’s road trip.

“Two wins and some confidence for the rest of the season,” she said.

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at s.arnold@umiami.edu.