Sparked by coaching additions and key returnees, Miami volleyball could have special 2023 season

Junior setter Savannah Vach hits the ball during Miami’s game against Louisville on Sep 23, 2022. Photo credit: Michael Mok

Miami’s volleyball team had an impressive season in 2022, finishing with a record of 19-11. The Hurricanes were selected to play in the NCAA Tournament but lost in the first round to Kansas. This fall, Miami hopes to have an even stronger season with several off-season coaching moves to back it up.

In June, two-time Division III national champion Eric Johnson joined the ‘Canes volleyball staff as an assistant coach. His experience as a player has translated to his coaching career as a club coach and as an assistant coach at American University in the Patriot League. Before his time at American, Johnson held a four-year tenure at George Mason.

“Eric comes in with significant experience both as a player and a coach,” head coach Jose Gandara said in a Miami Athletics release. “He has worked under experienced mentors, brings a unique set of skills that complement our current staff and will upgrade our program from day one.”

The Hurricanes also added Anise Havili to their coaching staff. Havili was a three-time All-American, earning consecutive Big 12 Setter of the Year awards. She was a starter for Kansas’ 2015 Final Four team and 2016 Big 12 Championship team.

Havili went on to play professional volleyball in Germany and Turkey before returning to the United States in 2022 to assist Purdue’s volleyball program.

UM assistant coach Jillian Hadder was promoted to associate head coach. Hadder was hired in May 2016 and has helped guide the Hurricanes to three NCAA tournament berths during her seven-year tenure as an assistant.

Miami will be led by setter Savannah Vach, a fifth-year returnee, and senior middle blocker, Janice Leao, who was named to the U.S. Women’s Collegiate Nation Team for the second-straight year in June. Vach and Leao started all 30 matches last season for the ‘Canes, leading dominant seasons in respect to their individual careers.

The Hurricanes will also return other key players from last season’s squad, like redshirt senior outside hitter Angela Grieve and junior defensive specialist Yaidaliz Rosado.

Leao was named to the 2022 All-ACC First Team, and Vach and Greive were named to the second team.

UM lost a few players from last year’s team. Defensive specialist Hanna Bissler transferred to South Carolina, while middle blocker Tyanna Omazic and outside hitter Kennedy Prince ran out of eligibility.

Miami kicks off the season on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. with a road match against ACC foe Wake Forest.