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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team dropped its first match of the season Friday evening at the Denver Pioneer Invitational to Denver, 0-3 (23-25, 17-25, 23-25).

The Cavaliers (3-1) were led by second-years Kendahl Voelker (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Sydney Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.). Voelker landed six kills, while Hill knocked down five kills with only one error, on 10 attempts for a .400 hitting percentage. Fifth-year Beth Shelton (Cincinnati, Ohio) shared the team-lead in kills with Voelker, contributing six also.

Fourth-year Marlow Bruneau led the squad with 26 assists and defensively, third-year Brittani Rendina (Lisle, Ill.) and second-year Kelly Irvin (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) dug eight attacks.

Denver’s (3-1) Holly Benson led all players with a double-double of 12 kills and 13 digs, while Clare Maxwell distributed a match-high 32 helpers. Kelly Porter blocked six of Virginia’s attacks.

The Cavaliers fell behind in the opening set, 10-16, before rattling off four-straight points, led by back-to-back kills from Voelker, to pull within one at 23-24. With Virginia serving, to knot the score at 24 all and force extra points, Emmy Davidsmeyer landed a kill to put the opening frame away for the Pioneers, 25-23.

Virginia began the second stanza with the momentum, taking a 7-3 lead and forcing a Denver timeout early. The tides quickly changed, though, as the Pioneers responded with a 7-3 run of their own to even the score at 10-10. Denver broke out of the intermission on a 12-4 streak and held off the Cavaliers for a 25-17 victory.

Behind the serve of A.J. Cushman (Richmond, Va.), the Cavaliers rattled off four-straight points to rebound from the second set. Virginia extended it’s lead to four, but would see it fall away as Denver eventually evened the score at 16 all, en route to taking a 19-16 lead. The Cavaliers worked to even the score again, and pulled within one late in the set, at 22-21, but Virginia was forced to use its final timeout when back-to-back kills from the Pioneers put Denver up 24-21.

First-year Simone Asque (Chicago, Ill.) landed a kill out of the timeout to bring the Cavaliers within two, before an attack error put the Cavaliers one point away from 24 all, again. It was Benson’s match-high 12th kill that put the set out of reach for Virginia this time, though, securing the 3-0 match win for Denver, 25-23.

Virginia will return to action tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, facing Tennessee before playing Iowa at 7 p.m. ET.

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