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HARRISONBURG, Va. Virginia volleyball head coach Lee Maes earned his first career victory with a 3-0 sweep of Murray State on Friday evening at the JMU Days Inn Invitational. The first-year head coach led the Cavaliers to a 25-17, 25-19, 25-15 victory in their first match of the season.

Third-year Lauren Dickson (Austin, Texas) led all players with 14 kills, while fifth-year Beth Shelton (Cincinnati, Ohio) landed 10. Middle blockers, fourth-year Shannon Davis (Austin, Texas) and second-year Sydney Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.) were efficient in their attacking duties, hitting .429 and .571, respectively.

Defensively, the Cavaliers were led by fourth-year Marlow Bruneau’s (Lakeville, Minn.) double-double of 30 assists and 14 digs and second-year A.J. Cushman’s (Richmond, Va.) 11 digs. Davis contributed three blocks.

“One of the things we’re trying to evaluate is how well we can have a practical application as much as we need it,” Maes said. “We want to take every match as if it’s a time to celebrate the effort, the time, the commitment and the preparation from the weeks before. Today, we saw a lot of really good things. The biggest thing was that we did a good job at making some adjustments on a team that we didn’t have much of an opportunity to scout because its our first match of the year. When you play a match with no information on your opponent, it’s a great thing to see your players really engaged in what you’re teaching.”

The Cavaliers jumped out to a 12-4 lead in set one forcing the Racers to call a timeout early on. The break allowed Murray State to regroup and rally to cut Virginia’s lead to four, at 15-11, forcing a Cavalier timeout.

Virginia used a 7-3 run following the brief intermission to break open the set, before Bruneau landed a kill to put Virginia up 23-14. A Racer attack error then gave the Cavaliers set point. Murray State battled to decrease its deficit, but a service error put Virginia on top, 25-17.

Murray State capitalized on Cavalier errors early in the second set, pushing for a 12-8 advantage. Virginia strung together a 5-1 run to even the score at 13 all, but the Racers responded with three straight points to maintain their lead, at 16-13.

It wasn’t until the Cavaliers won a long sloppy rally to knot the score at 17 all, that Virginia gained the momentum.

“That rally was about sustaining effort for a long period of time, and understanding that if we can better the ball and make plays, points will become simpler,” Maes said. “It’s something that we stress at practice and they did a really good job at that today.”

Following the rally, Davis landed a kill to give Virginia its first lead of the set and the Cavaliers went on to score eight of the final 11 points of the set to earn a 25-19 win.

The Cavaliers cruised to the victory in the third set. Led by an attack that was hitting .444 with 12 kills on 27 attacks and no errors, forcing Murray State to call a timeout at 18-10 to break the offensive momentum. The Cavaliers’ attack carried them through the rest of the match, though; landing five more kills, while committing only one error, en route to a 25-15 match win.

“Our goal is to have an identity that we are so efficient in limiting our errors and earning points that we put pressure on other teams to score,” Maes said. “We are continually working on our level of ball control so that we can limit our errors, and our progress was shown with our results today.”

Virginia will return to action tomorrow, at 10 a.m., facing New Hampshire before taking on host James Madison in the nightcap, at 7 p.m.

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