Virginia Upsets No. 24 Clemson in Sweep
CHAROTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia volleyball team (15-9, 10-5 ACC) swept 24th-ranked and conference leader Clemson in impressive fashion Friday in Memorial Gymnasium. Each game was a hard-fought battle between the two teams, with Virginia coming out on top. Game scores were 30-23, 32-30, and 32-30.
The Tigers entered the match with a 21-2 overall record and had yet to be defeated (14-0) in league play. The match was played before a capacity crowd at Mem Gym with 916 in attendance, believed to be a Virginia record.
The last time the Cavaliers knocked off a ranked opponent was back on Oct. 5, 1996, a 3-1 win at home against No. 22 Georgia Tech.
“Everyone really stepped up today,” head coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton said following the win. “Shannon (Davis) is the emotional leader of our team on the court, and it was really fun to watch her play tonight. Tara (Hester) and Beth (Shelton) both did an amazing job tonight in their sub roles.”
Sarah Kirkwood led the UVa attack with 14 kills, while Shannon Davis and Kendahl Voelker both contributed 11 kills each. Setters Kelly Irvin and Marlow Bruneau finished the night with 25 and 20 assists, respectively. A.J. Cushman tallied two service aces to aid the Cavalier offensive.
“This game was a really big confidence booster for us after last weekend’s lost at Florida State,” Davis said. “Everyone stepped it up, and this win will definitely give us the confidence we need going into these last five games.”
Defensively, Melissa Caldwell led the team with a match-high 24 digs, while Kirkwood added 18 more. Davis also recorded seven blocks on the night.
Virginia gained momentum quickly by winning the first game. Although there were 12 tie scores early, the Cavaliers pulled ahead late in the contest. However, Clemson made a last-minute surge in the first game, recording five consecutive points to bring the game to 27-23. Through powerful offensive, the Cavaliers were able to put the Tigers away 30-23.
However, momentum shifted in favor of the Tigers deep into the second game, with Clemson ahead 28-18 at one point in the contest. The Cavaliers came back from a nine-point defect by scoring a remarkable 10 straight to put them ahead 30-29. A kill by Kirkwood eventually put the Cavaliers on top 32-30.
The Cavaliers finished off the Tigers by winning the third game 32-20. Fighting bitterly throughout the contest, Clemson continually supplied pressure to the Cavaliers. The Tigers were never more than three down during the entire game.
Virginia finished with a .219 hitting percentage, recording 57 kills on the night. Clemson, meanwhile, finished with a .128 percentage and 49 kills.
Danielle Hepburn led the Tigers (21-3, 14-1 ACC) with a match-high 15 kills. Libero Didem Ege tallied 23 digs.
The Cavaliers play host to Georgia Tech at 1 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Gymnasium.