Looking to bounce back from a tough defeat against Florida State, the Hurricanes put it all on the floor Friday night to survive a near-crushing comeback from North Carolina State (13-3, 3-2 ACC). Despite blowing a 24-21 and a 14-8 lead in back-to-back sets, the ‘Canes bested the Wolfpack 3-2 in a thrilling match at the Knights Sports Complex.
The first set was neck and neck between the two teams, a common theme that would continue throughout the rest of the match. With the set tied at 18, Fifth-year setter Savannah Vach set up Sophomore Flormarie Heredia-Colon to take the lead. Miami would never look back and took the set 25-21. Colon was the central piece to the ‘Canes offense, where she finished the opening set with a game-high eight kills to set the tone early for the ‘Canes.
The second set was a proper back-and-forth battle, with 11 ties and six lead changes throughout the game. Vach took control for the ‘Canes, making her presence felt by being involved with 13 of Miami’s first 17 points. After a kill by Vach, Miami looked to be in control of the game, taking a 23-20 lead. However, with some sloppy attack errors and poor defense, NC State snatched the fun out of the hands of the Hurricanes, going on a 5-0 run to win 25-23.
Miami started set three the same way they ended set two: sloppy. The Wolfpack won 10 of the first 15 points to start the game, led by Sophomores Ava Brizard and Courtney Bryant. After the slow start, the ‘Canes would finally gain some traction, winning four straight serves and igniting the home crowd with a vicious kill from Heredia-Colon, cutting the deficit to two and forcing Wolfpack coach Luke Slabe to call timeout. That timeout didn’t slow down the Hurricane’s momentum, with key blocks from Cianna Tejada and Peyman Yardimci to take an 18-17 lead. After winning 6 of the next 13 serves, Heredia-Colon closed it out, tallying her 18th kill to give Miami a 2-1 lead.
NC State held their own in the 4th set, keeping themselves at a distance from UM for as long as possible. Miami looked fatigued, struggling to defend any spikes from a relentless Wolfpack offense and making unforced errors in untimely spots. After calling a timeout down 18-12, the Hurricanes would claw back, and after kills from Vach, Heredia Colon, Janice Leao, and Grace Lopez, it was all tied up at 19. Following an ace by Vach, the Hurricanes kept up their pace and eventually led the game 24-21. After an NC State player smacked the ball out of play on the next serve, the Hurricanes believed they had won until the officials called Grace Lopez for a net violation. The Hurricanes spiraled out of control, allowing the Wolfpack to force a final set, winning the round 27-25.
In the final set, Miami held on to the lead and never looked back until NC State threatened the Hurricanes again with another comeback, up 14-8. It was the third time today that the Hurricanes struggled to finish the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack climbed back from the jaws of defeat and went on an astonishing 6-0 run to tie it back to 14. However, the Hurricanes never backed down and killed off the away side’s last hope as junior Alanys Viera sealed the deal, winning the match 16-14.
Flomarie Heredia Colon was a nightmare for NC State all night, finishing the game with a career-high 25 kills and 11 digs, placing herself eighth in Miami history for most kills in a five-set match. It is only her sophomore season. Lopez and Leao provided their offensive attack, tallying 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Libero Naylani Feliciano was all over the place for the ‘Canes, too, tying the game-high in digs with 15 of her own.
Miami looks to continue their momentum from their gritty victory with two games on the road against Clemson on Thursday, October 13th, and Georgia Tech on October 15th.