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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team (15-10, 10-6 ACC) hits the road for its second four-match road trip of the season, beginning this week at NC State and North Carolina. The Cavaliers will take on the Wolfpack at 7 p.m. Thursday in Raleigh, N.C., in a match that will be broadcast live on ACC Select. UVa will then battle North Carolina at 6 p.m. Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Against NC State: Virginia leads 30-19
Last Meeting: Oct. 12 in Charlottesville
Result: Virginia, 3-0 (30-19, 30-15, 30-27)

Against North Carolina: North Carolina leads 31-13
Last Meeting: Oct. 14 in Charlottesville
Result: Virginia, 3-0 (30-15, 30-24, 30-27)

Fourth year Melissa Caldwell is closing in on Virginia’s program record for career digs. The Houston native has tallied 1,843 digs in her career and is 43 shy of tying all-time leader Anne Marie Hammers, who tallied 1,886 career digs. Caldwell has tallied a team-best 376 digs this season.

Virginia is 12-2 this season after winning game one. Both of the losses were in five games (at 17th-ranked Duke, home against Georgia Tech). In contrast, the squad is 3-8 when dropping the first game of the match to its opponent. The Cavaliers have won the first game of the match in 10 of their last 11 contests.

NC State is 3-23 overall and is winless in the conference with a 0-6 mark in ACC play. Lauren Zaniboni leads the Wolfpack offense with 3.13 kills per game while teammate Chrissy Zirpolo averages 2.31 kpg. Alex Smith averages 8.37 assists per game, a mark that also ranks ninth in the conference. Lindsay Benac leads NC State defensively with 2.91 digs per game.

Last weekend, NC State was swept by Maryland before falling to Boston College 3-1.

North Carolina enters the weekend with a 12-13 overall mark, including an even 8-8 record in ACC play. The Tar Heels have two players among the conference’s top 10 in hitting percentage, led by Christine Vaughen’s .353 mark, which ranks fourth on the list. Teammate Heather Brooks ranks ninth with a .297 percentage. Setter Stephanie Jansma averages 11.40 assists per game, good enough for fourth among ACC players. Defensively, Brianna Eskola leads the league with 5.70 digs per game and Brooks is second in blocks with 1.46 bpg.

The Tar Heels are coming off two sweeps against Boston College and Maryland last weekend.

Virginia split its matches last weekend, beating 24th-ranked Clemson 3-0 Friday to hand the Tigers their first conference loss, before falling to Georgia Tech at home Sunday in five games.

In the upset over Clemson, Sarah Kirkwood led the offensive attack with 14 kills, while Shannon Davis and Kendahl Voelker tallied 11 kills apiece. Defensively, Melissa Caldwell finished with a match-high 24 digs.

Against Georgia Tech, Katie Oakes led the way with 18 kills while Kirkwood and Voelker added 16 kills each. Five players recorded double digit digs, led by Caldwell’s 17. Marlow Bruneau also added five blocks.

Virginia swept 24th-ranked and conference leader Clemson at home last Friday, winning by scores of 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.

Virginia tallied its first win since 1996 over a ranked opponent when the Cavalier squad knocked off No. 24 Clemson Nov. 2. Virginia is 1-2 this season vs. ranked foes, losing both matches on the road to then-No. 18 San Diego and then-No. 17 Duke earlier in the year.

Several Cavaliers rank among the top 10 in the latest statistical reports from the ACC, released Tuesday (Nov. 6). Sarah Kirkwood is third in the league in kills, averaging 4.49 per game. Kirkwood also ranks third in service aces with 55 on the season, and first year A.J. Cushman is eighth. Teammate Katie Oakes stands seventh in blocks, averaging 1.23 bpg and Melissa Caldwell is seventh among the ACC leaders with 4.48 dpg. Rookie Kelly Irvin sneaks onto the assists list this week, ranking 10th among league players with 7.95 apg.

Fourth year Sarah Kirkwood recorded three service aces in UVa’s 3-2 loss at Virginia Tech Oct. 9, giving her 200 for her career. Kirkwood, who passed her sister Emily on the career list in the first match of the season, is the first person in school history to surpass 200 career service aces.

Fourth year and team tri-captain Sarah Kirkwood has set three program records this season. She set the career record for service aces in UVa’s season-opener against Texas Tech (Aug. 24), blasting seven aces in that match to surpass her sister Emily (167 career aces) as the program’s all-time leader. She currently has 220 career aces.

In Virginia’s match against Oklahoma (Sept. 7), Kirkwood set the school record for career kills. Needing just eight kills to take over the top spot on the list, Kirkwood posted a match-high 15 kills against the Sooners to replace former Cavalier Deanna Zwarich as the career leader. Kirkwood has tallied 1,855 kills in her career.

Her third program record came in the ACC opener against Virginia Tech (Sept. 14), this time for attack attempts. Kirkwood needed 18 more attempts to break Paige Davis’ record of 4,018 career attack attempts. Davis was one of the program’s first All-Americans and is the older sister of Kirkwood’s teammate, Shannon Davis. Kirkwood now has 4,771 career attack attempts.


Fourth years Melissa Caldwell and Katie Oakes join Kirkwood near the top of career lists. Caldwell, the squad’s returning libero, currently holds the top spot for digs per game. Oakes, meanwhile, is first in blocks per game and ranks among the top 10 in block assists and kills per game.

Virginia continues its road-swing next weekend, playing at Maryland and Boston College. Game time against the Terps is set for 5 p.m. Friday while the Cavaliers and Eagles will battle at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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