Cavaliers rally to defeat Tennessee in five-set thriller
DENVER, Colo. – The Tennessee Volunteers rallied from an 0-2 deficit in Saturday’s opening match of the Denver Pioneer Invitational to force a fifth-frame, but the Virginia volleyball team rallied for a dominating 15-6 victory in the deciding set for a win over the Volunteers. The Cavaliers won the first two frames, 25-23 and 25-19, before dropping the third and fourth sets, 19-25 and 22-25.
Second-year Kendahl Voelker (Fort Myers, Fla.) led the Cavaliers in the final frame, landing three of Virginia’s five kills, including one at 11-6 that forced Tennessee to call a timeout, and sparked a 5-0 run that led Virginia to the 15-6 match win.
Voelker knocked down 10 kills throughout the entire match and collected a match-high eight blocks. Third-year Lauren Dickson (Austin, Texas) and fifth-year Beth Shelton (Cincinnati, Ohio) joined Voelker in double-figures, as they each put together their first double-doubles of the season. Shelton knocked down a team-high 17 kills with 13 digs, while Dickson led the team with 15 digs and contributed 15 kills.
Fourth-year Marlow Bruneau narrowly missed a double-double, dishing out 42 assists and collecting nine digs. She also landed three service aces.
Third-year Brittani Rendina (Lisle, Ill.) had 11 digs and fourth-year Shannon Davis blocked seven Volunteer attacks.
For Tennessee, Milan Clarke led all players with 19 kills and Kylie Marshall collected a match-high 21 digs.
Tennessee (3-2) used back-to-back kills from Clarke to break into Virginia’s five-point lead late in the opening frame, and with some help from Virginia’s errors, held the Cavaliers at set-point in order to bring the score to 24-23. A Volunteer service error ended their fight and Virginia was able to escape with the 25-23 victory.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second set and never looked back. Virginia maintained it’s advantage, never allowing Tennessee any closer than four-points and cruised to a 25-19 win.
Set three was a mirror image to the second frame, just in favor of the Volunteers. With a 15-10 led, the Volunteers allowed the Cavaliers to come no closer than three-points, en route to a 25-19 win.
Consecutive double-blocks from Davis and Voelker sparked a short run for the Cavaliers late in the fourth frame, bringing Virginia within two points of Tennessee, at 22-20. But, that wasn’t enough as the squads traded points and the Volunteers held on for the 25-22 win, forcing the fifth set.
The win for Virginia evens the all-time record between the two schools at three all, but marks the first time the Cavaliers have defeated the Volunteers away from Memorial Gymnasium.
Virginia (4-1) will return to action this evening at 7 p.m. ET, taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes. The match will be the final contest of the tournament for the Cavaliers before returning home to host the Marriott Jefferson Cup next weekend.