Miami looks to carry momentum onto the road

How is this team not ranked?

This year’s University of Miami volleyball team is off to its best start since joining the ACC in 2004. The team is 19-2 overall and tied for first in the conference with Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Miami recorded its 12th sweep on the season last Friday night against NC State (9-15, 3-6). With the win, the Canes improved to 9-0 all-time against the Wolfpack.

On Saturday UM defeated UNC (11-9, 5-4), 3-1.

For the seventh time this season Miami overcame adversity by coming back and winning the match after dropping the first set. The win improves Miami to 9-0 at the Knights Sports Complex.

Saturday featured a packed gym of 581 screaming fans, despite the fact that the Hurricane football game overlapped with the volleyball game.

The point: Miami is simply clicking on all cylinders, and people are noticing.

As a team, the Hurricanes are first in the league in service aces, second in the league in kills and third in the league in digs and hitting percentage.

What head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch is most proud of is the depth of this squad.

“The one thing about us is that if teams key in on one player, then other players will step their game up,” Lantagne Welch said. “We have a lot of balance in our lineup. The outside [hitters] set the tone and the middle [blockers] take over from there.”

For the second time this year, freshman phenom Lane Carico was named ACC Player of the Week.

Carico was dominant this past weekend, registering 30 kills, 28 digs and four assists. Carico leads the Hurricanes in kills per set and is second on the team in digs.

“I was not so concerned about my performance,” Carico said. “I was just so happy my team won and everyone was able to play well.”

Despite the excellence in performance, Miami was once again not ranked in the top 25 of the Coaches Poll. They did not even get one vote of consideration.

This writer senses sense a geographical bias, as 10 of the top 25 teams are on the west coast.

Regardless, this team deserves some respect, and they will once again try to make their case when they hit the road after a five-match home stand.

Miami heads to Virginia this weekend to take on UVA Friday night at 7 p.m., and then travels to Blacksburg overnight to battle Virginia Tech on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Miami has won five of the past six meetings against the Hokies. Saturday night’s match will be crucial with first place in the ACC potentially on the line.

“We take it one match at a time,” Lantagne Welch said. “Going on the road is always tougher, but we will be ready and be patient with our game, and we are excited for the road trip.”

Have no doubt that the Hurricanes will be ready for this road trip, as they have shown nothing less all season.

“I think we’re ready because we have been preparing mentally and physically, scouting and taking care of business in practice.” Carico said.