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Charlottesville, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team dropped a hard-fought match to the Duke Blue Devils on Senior Day Saturday evening in Memorial Gymnasium. Despite winning a thrilling first set and dropping a close second set, the Cavaliers weren’t able to hold on, as Duke escaped with a 3-1 (24-26, 27-25, 25-15, 25-22) victory.

“The match was very tightly fought,” head coach Lee Maes said. “It was a very intense match with a lot of high quality volleyball. The difference that reflected the outcome was primarily based on serving and passing. Duke was more aggressive and efficient in their serving and passing than we were with ours. When both teams passed the ball well, both offenses were scoring a lot of points. We just didn’t side out enough to be able to limit the scoring runs that Duke had.”

Following a short ceremony to honor Virginia’s three seniors, Lauren Dickson, Tara Hester and Brittani Rendina, the Cavaliers used their energy to battle the Blue Devils to the end of the opening set. The two squads exchanged the early points, working the score to an even 11-11 tie. The Cavaliers then went on a 4-0 run to break the stalemate and force Duke to call a timeout.

Out of the break, the Cavaliers’ attack was able to top the Blue Devils, riding seven kills on seven swings from junior Kendahl Voelker, Virginia won the set, 26-24.

The second set picked up where the first let off. With 13 tie scores, neither team was willing to give in. Down one, freshman Jessica O’Shoney landed a service ace to knot the score at 23 all, before a block from junior Sydney Hill and Voelker brought the crowd to their feet and gave Virginia the first set point opportunity. The Blue Devils responded with a block to even the score at 24, before Voelker knocked down a kill to keep Virginia on top. It wouldn’t be enough though, as the Blue Devils found a way to land three-straight kills and escape with a 27-25 victory.

Duke started strong in the third set, taking a four-point lead early in the frame, and it was over from there. The Cavaliers rallied to put together a 3-0 run, but were unable to take an advantage in the set as the Blue Devils cruised to a 25-15 victory.

Duke jumped out to an early advantage again in the fourth, leading by as many as seven in the frame. Virginia used a timely three-point run to pull within two points of the Blue Devils, at 22-24, but it was not enough as Duke called a timeout, and landed a kill out of the break, to take the 25-22 victory.

Sophomore Simone Asque once again led the Cavaliers’ attack, knocking down 17 kills and collecting 16 digs for her sixth double-double this season. Voelker provided assistance on the attack, ending with 15 kills, while O’Shoney added 10.

Defensively, Hester and Rendina – playing in their final match at Memorial Gymnasium – and junior AJ Cushman each contributed 13 digs. Freshman Rachel Gray dished out 45 assists.

The match marked the final home game for Lauren Dickson, Hester and Rendina.

“I think our fourth years have done themselves proud,” Maes said. “I think it was really evident tonight in how much they’ve given to this program with their leadership and the examples that they’ve displayed. Tonight, our team played with a level of intensity and energy to honor our seniors. It was our way to show our thank you to what they have given to this program. Our team really came together and it showed in how hard we competed tonight.”

The loss drops the Cavaliers to 12-16 on the season and 7-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Duke – led by Rachael Moss’s 17 kills and 21 digs – improves to 24-5 on the year and 14-3 in the league.

Virginia will close out this season with three road matches. The Cavaliers will head to Georgia Tech (Fri, 7 p.m.) and Clemson (Sat., 6 p.m.) this weekend, before facing to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, Nov. 25 for the regular-season finale at 6 p.m.

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