The University of Miami volleyball team dropped two matches over the weekend at the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Florida. UM narrowly lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks, 3-2, on Friday before falling 3-1 to the No. 20 Oregon Ducks on Sunday.
The ‘Canes began their match against the Gamecocks with an ace and continued their dominant play to go up 5-1 in the first set, which led to a quick timeout by South Carolina.
Down 9-2, the Gamecocks sparked a comeback after their second timeout, cutting the deficit to 2 with the score at 14-12.
South Carolina eventually took the lead and after a lengthy discussion and review between the referees, the Gamecocks were awarded a controversial point to take the first set, 25-23.
With the ‘Canes leading 9-5 in the second set, outside hitter Nyah Anderson got the crowd roaring with her third kill of the match to give Miami a comfortable five-point lead.
Like the first set, the Hurricanes could not hold on to their lead for long, as South Carolina soon went in front, 15-14.
The ‘Canes could not regain their lead and lost another very close set, 25-22, giving South Carolina a commanding 2-0 advantage.
Miami took a quick 6-2 lead to start the third set with multiple impressive kills and blocks. Back-to-back kills by outside hitter Flormarie Heredia Colon gave the ‘Canes momentum and a 13-9 lead.
This time, Miami held on and took the third set, 25-20.
The Hurricanes carried their momentum right into the fourth set. Back-to-back aces by redshirt junior Angela Grieve gave Miami an early 6-3 lead.
The ‘Canes easily took the fourth set, 25-13, to tie the match at two sets each.
After a back-and-forth opening to the fifth set, the Gamecocks managed to string together a few points and take an early 7-4 lead.
With Miami later trailing, 14-11, a service error by middle blocker Abby Casiano ended the ‘Canes chances of a comeback, as they dropped the set, 15-11, and the match, 3-2.
On Sunday, Oregon came to the Knight Sports Complex ready to play.
It bested Miami 3-1, taking the first set 25-17, the second 25-18 and the fourth 25-8. UM won the third set 25-21.
With plenty of height up front, Mimi Colyer, Kiari Robey and Brooke Nuneviller of Oregon dominated as hitters. The Ducks had 58 kills compared to Miami’s 37 and seven more blocks. Miami simply could not keep up with Oregon’s athleticism.
Although Miami lost, there’s plenty of hope for future success. Miami still has four players who earned ACC honors last season, and a key young player stepped up on Sunday and will hopefully continue her success for the rest of the season. Six-foot freshman Flormarie Heredia Colon was an absolute monster at the net for the ‘Canes, tying a team-high 11 kills.
Veterans like redshirt sophomore Angela Grieve excelled with 11 kills. Grieve’s chemistry with senior Savannah Vach, who tallied 32 assists against the Ducks, is proving to be one of the best combos in the country.
Oregon is a legitimate championship contender, and they immediately brought intensity against the ‘Canes, who have work to do after a 25-win season last year.
“It was not the outcome we wanted today, but we will learn some valuable lessons from the match and work to improve over the next week. Our focus now turns to conference play,” Miami head coach Jose “Keno” Gandara said.
Despite the losses, Miami fans packed the Knight Sports Complex and brought a great amount of energy this weekend. UM and the Hurricane faithful will be back in action against Louisville on Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Coral Gables.
Carter Lutz also contributed to this story.