Virginia Drops Three-Set Match to No. 5 Nebraska in Front of Record Crowd
LINCOLN, Neb. – Playing in front of the largest crowd to ever watch the Virginia volleyball team – a sellout attendance of 4,115 – the Cavaliers drop a 3-0 (20-25, 11-25, 16-25) match to No. 5 Nebraska on the first day of the Ameritas Players Challenge. The loss snaps Virginia’s four-match win streak and drops the Cavaliers to 4-3 on the season, while the Cornhuskers improve to 6-1.
“The main reason why we came to play in this tournament was to have an opportunity to gauge our development and play three of the best teams in the country,” head coach Lee Maes said. “I like how our team responded to the atmosphere here and we felt that we limited the environments impact on our play.”
Fueled by a standing ovation during the introduction for Maes, the Cavaliers battled the Cornhuskers to an even 6-6 score in the opening frame, before taking their largest lead of the contest, at 9-6. Virginia held the advantage until four-straight points from Nebraska pushed the home team ahead 15-13.
Virginia then scored four of the next six points to knot the score at 17 all, but another four-point run plagued the Cavaliers, putting the Huskers up 20-17. The Cavaliers showed promise in the final stretch of the set, but were unable to overcome the Nebraska squad, ultimately trading points before the Huskers put the frame away by scoring two-consecutive points to win 25-20.
Nebraska carried the momentum into the second frame, making things difficult for the Cavaliers. Jumping out to a 9-2 lead, the Huskers held off the Cavaliers’ attempt to rally a comeback and pulled ahead 20-6 before winning the frame, 25-11.
The third set began where the second left off. The Cornhuskers pulled ahead 7-2 before Virginia was able to chip into Nebraska’s lead. A four-point run in favor of the Cavaliers brought Virginia within three, at 14-11, but the Huskers responded with three-straight points of their own, en route to a 25-16 victory.
“We spent the week preparing our team to take an appropriate approach in the match versus Nebraska,” Maes said. “Our approach was to focus on the process, to stay engaged in the moment and focus on what we can control. I felt we did a good job in that regard and it was evident in how competitive we were to start the match. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to sustain a level of execution, especially with our passing, and that ultimately led to our inability to score offensively. ”
Sophomore Simone Asque led Virginia’s attack with seven kills, while freshman Rachel Gray dished out 20 assists. Senior Brittani Rendina led the defense with nine digs and junior Sydney Hill had three blocks.
Tara Mueller paced Nebraska’s attack with 14 kills, while Kayla Banwarth collected 14 digs. Sydney Anderson had a double-double, dishing out a match-high 34 assists to go with 12 digs.
Virginia will be back in action tomorrow, facing No. 8 UCLA at 5 p.m. ET.