Volleyball falls in championship game at Hurricane Invitational

Alex Broadwell//Staff Photographer
Alex Broadwell//Staff Photographer
Alex Broadwell//Staff Photographer

The University of Miami volleyball team dropped its final match of the Hurricane Invitational Saturday night, falling to the University of South Florida by a score of 3 -1 (25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 25-22).

The Canes were unable to win the annual Hurricane Invitational for the third straight year.

Miami (2-1, 0-0) opened up the 2009 season at the Knight Sports Complex with convincing victories over Florida Gulf Coast and Prairie View A&M, sweeping both matches respectively. However, UM could not carry that momentum into the championship game against USF.

Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch knew heading into the matchup that USF would pose a challenge for her team.

“USF is a very good team and they have some very good hitters; some big kids that block well, some scramblers in the back court,” said Lantagne Welch following Saturday afternoon’s victory verses Prairie View A&M. “It’s going to be a big test and we need to execute very well tonight.”

At one point the Hurricanes led the opening set by a score of 16-12, but only scored two more points the remainder of the set.

Sophomore outside-hitter Lane Carico was outstanding in a losing effort, racking up 22 kills and at one point serving nine straight times in the third period leading the Hurricanes to their only set victory of the night.

“I think we’re going to learn a lot from [the loss] and it’s almost a good thing that we’re losing now because when it comes to the ACC we just need to win everything,” Carico said. “We can take a lot out of this, we know we need to step up our game in practice and then play how we practice.”

Despite the disappointing finish to the tournament, there were several bright spots throughout the weekend for the Miami Hurricanes to build upon moving forward.

In the second game of the weekend against Prairie View A&M, the Hurricanes’ jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first set and outside hitter Maria Andersson set a University of Miami record recording seven service aces in a three-set match.

Other highlights included freshman setter Nrithya Sundararaman coming into her own as a setter, putting up tremendous assist totals throughout the tournament including 39 in the final match. Junior setter Katie Gallagher missed the entire weekend for undisclosed reasons.

Junior middle blocker Lici McGee dominated the front court play in the first two matches for the Hurricanes squad.

“We really try and work on playing together and bringing an excitement to the court,” McGee Said. “We get excited about every game no matter who the opponent is.”

The Hurricanes will look to bring that same excitement out west next weekend as they head off to play in the Hampton Inn & Suites Northern Colorado Tournament. They will face off versus Eastern Michigan this upcoming Friday and both North Dakota State and Northern Colorado on Saturday.