Cavaliers Sweep Temple Invitational, Defeat Owls in Five Sets
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Virginia volleyball team swept its competition in its opening weekend of play at the Temple Invitational, defeating the host Owls, 3-2 (19-25, 26-24, 25-19, 21-25, 15-11), Saturday evening. Throughout the tournament, the Cavaliers also defeated Valparaiso, 3-1, Friday afternoon and Delaware earlier today, 3-1.
“Early in the season, you are trying to find consistency in various aspects,” head coach Lee Maes said. “We continue to evaluate individual players, as well as assess how our players are functioning within our system. Tonight’s match was indicative of a lot of inconsistency with our ball control and blocking. Two things that we had to deal with tonight that made the match difficult for us were one: fatigue, and two: a different style of play. Temple was not going to beat themselves with unforced errors. They kept a lot of balls in play and didn’t make very many errors. We couldn’t match that efficiency tonight. I’m happy that we were able to fight through our fatigue and inconsistency in the end. We look forward to getting back in the gym and getting better.”
Junior Simone Asque recorded her second-consecutive double-double of the season to be named to the all-tournament team, while sophomore Jessica O’Shoney was also named to the squad for her play.
Asque had a match-high 21 kills and 12 digs tonight to total 67 kills and 42 digs for the weekend. O’Shoney also had an impressive opening weekend, tallying 30 kills and 12 blocks – with nine kills and five blocks against Temple.
Freshman Emily Rottman opened her collegiate career in impressive fashion, reaching double-digits in kills for the first time in her young career tonight. Rottman knocked down 12 kills and also collected 11 digs to mark her first collegiate double-double.
Defensively, senior AJ Cushman collected a personal-best 30 digs to mark the first 30-dig match of her career, while freshman Mallory Woolridge – making her first collegiate start – blocked a match-high six attacks.
Sophomore transfer Beth Wildermuth and sophomore Rachel Gray shared setting duties, with Wildermuth dishing out 25 assists and Gray having 19.
Temple used a 4-0 run early in the first frame to pull ahead 13-9. The Owls then had another 4-0 run late in the set that put them up 23-19 and the Cavaliers were unable to recover, as the home team went on to win, 25-19.
The Owls maintained the momentum through most of the second set, but despite being down two at 24-22, the Cavaliers rallied to fight off two of Temple’s set point opportunities and knotted the score at 24. A kill by Woolridge gave Virginia a set point opportunity of its own, in which Rottman took advantage of by knocking a tip off the block for a kill to help Virginia close the frame on a 4-0 run and earn a 26-24 win.
The third frame featured only one tie score, at 1-1. The Cavaliers went on a 9-2 run to break the stalemate and never looked back, as they went on to win 25-19.
Virginia used another big run at the beginning of the fourth frame, pulling ahead 7-2, but six-straight points from Temple gave the Owls a one-point advantage. The score remained tight from there, until back-to-back blocks and an ace from the Owls forced Virginia to call a timeout, while down 21-18. Temple increased its lead to four out of the break and the Cavaliers were unable to regroup as the Owls forced a deciding game with a 25-21 victory.
The final frame was a back-and-forth battle from the beginning. Featuring eight tie scores and five lead changes, there was only one two-point advantage – held by the Cavaliers at 7-5 – before Rottman landed three kills in four points to spark a 4-1 run that put Virginia ahead for good, at 12-9. Rottman’s 12th kill of the match gave Virginia a match point opportunity, before an attack error by the Owls gave Virginia a 15-11 set win.
Virginia (3-0) will return home next weekend to host the Holiday Inn Jefferson Cup. The two-day tournament will take place on Friday and Saturday, with George Washington, Liberty and North Florida visiting Memorial Gymnasium. The Cavaliers will face North Florida first on Friday at 1 p.m., before hosting Liberty at 7 p.m. that evening. The tournament will be concluded on Saturday, as Virginia will play George Washington at 3 p.m.