Cavaliers Nipped by No. 17 Duke 3-2
The Cavalier volleyball team pushed the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils (16-4, 11-1 ACC) to the limit tonight in ACC action, but Virginia was not able to convert a match point in the decisive fifth game and fell 3-2 tonight in Durham. Sarah Kirkwood led the way for the Cavaliers with 22 kills off 60 attacks for a .300 hitting percentage, while libero Melissa Caldwell added 36 digs. Virginia combined for nine service aces against the Blue Devils, the most any team had notched against Duke this season. Kirkwood, Caldwell, and A. J. Cushman each had two to lead the Hoos in that category. Virginia (13-8, 8-4 ACC) came into the contest averaging 2.1 aces per game. Game scores were 30-18, 19-30, 19-30, 30-26, 17-15.
Virginia won the opening game, stunning Duke 30-18 to take a 1-0 lead behind a commanding .405 hitting percentage on 17 kills. The Cavaliers surged out to a nine-point lead before the Blue Devils rallied with three points. Virginia built the lead up to double digits to lead at 17-7 before Duke rallied again to cut it to 18-11, but the Cavaliers responded and took game one. Kirkwood was errorless, going seven-for-10, and the Cavaliers made just two errors as a team.
Duke stormed back to take the next two contests 30-19 to take a 2-1 lead. The Blue Devils held the Cavaliers to a .070 hitting percentage in game two before allowing just .113 in game three while the hosts had marks of .333 and .400
Virginia won game four behind a 19-assist performance from Kelly Irvin and a defense that held Duke to a .170 hitting percentage. Beth Shelton and Kirkwood both notched six kills each as the Cavaliers exploded for nine consecutive points to break open a close game and lead 21-10. Duke rallied with a 16-5 run to tie the game at 26-26, but the Cavaliers closed out the game with four consecutive kills to take game four and force the fifth game.
In the decisive fifth game, Virginia jumped out to a 7-5 and the teams traded points to get to a 10-8 lead for the Cavaliers before Duke took the next three points for an 11-10 lead for the hosts. Virginia battled back and tied the game at 14-14 and again at 15-15, but the Blue Devils took the next two points for the match.
Virginia returns to action as it travels to Florida to face ACC rivals Miami (Oct. 26) and Florida State (Oct. 27) next Friday and Saturday, respectively.