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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In front of a season-high 697 fans in Memorial Gymnasium Friday night, the Virginia volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking five-set match to in-state rival Virginia Tech. The contest marked the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams, while it was also the opening match of the second-annual Marriott Cavalier Classic for both squads. Set scores were 19-25, 25-14, 25-16, 20-25 and 15-13.

“What a great crowd,” head coach Lee Maes said. “They had a chance to watch a real exciting match.”

The Cavaliers (5-5) were led by freshman McKenzie Adams, who landed a personal-best 14 kills, while junior Simone Asque and sophomore Jess O’Shoney each reached double-digit kills as well. Asque, who also tied the program’s second-best individual match performance in service aces – landing seven, knocked down 13 kills and O’Shoney landed 10.

Defensively, three Cavaliers tallied double-digit digs, led by a match-high 23 from senior AJ Cushman. Freshman Emily Rottman collected 12 and sophomore Rachel Gray contributed her first double-double of the season with 10 digs and 13 assists.

Sophomore Beth Wildermuth also helped lead the offense, distributing 28 assists.

At the net, three Cavaliers – sophomore Tobi Farrar, freshman Mallory Woolridge and O’Shoney – each tallied five blocks, while Rottman had four.

For Virginia Tech (9-1), Jennifer Wiker led the way with a match-high 21 kills, while Justine Record had 11 and Felicia Willoughby landed 10. Erin Leaser recorded a double-double of 44 assists and 14 digs, while Amy Wengrenovich led the team with 17 digs.

“Tonight’s match was indicative of who served and passed better,” Maes said. “We won our two sets significantly because we were more proficient with our serve and pass game. Then we let Virginia Tech back into the match by making unforced hitting errors and not being able to sustain a level of quality passing as the match wore on.”

In the opening of the first set, back-to-back aces from Asque and a kill from Farrar gave Virginia a 10-8 lead, forcing the Hokies to call a timeout. Out of the break, Virginia Tech worked to even the score to 10. From there, the score remained even until a six-point run by the Hokies led Virginia to call a second timeout, down 22-16. The Cavaliers weren’t able to recover from the deficit, as Virginia Tech went on to win, 25-19.

The Cavaliers regroup between sets and used a 4-0 run to take a 5-1. Virginia extended its lead to nine, at 14-6, forcing Virginia Tech to call a timeout. Virginia extended its lead to 10 on the next point and cruised to a 25-14 win.

In the third stanza, the Cavaliers rattled off seven-straight points behind the strong serving of Asque, who had three aces in the run, giving Virginia a 20-13 lead. From there, the Cavaliers didn’t look back and went on to win the match, 25-16.

The fourth frame was another tight battle, up until Virginia Tech broke open an even 17-17 score with four-straight points. The Cavaliers rallied for back-to-back points of their own, but it wasn’t enough as the Hokies forced a fifth game with a 25-20 win.

With five tie scores throughout the opening of the fifth frame, the Hokies used a rally midway through the game to earn a 13-10 lead. But despite being down three, the Cavaliers responded by scoring three of the next four points, forcing Virginia Tech to call a timeout, up 14-13. However, the Cavaliers were unable to even the score and the Hokies claimed the match with a 15-13 deciding set score.

“We played well enough to win the match, but we didn’t make enough positive plays at critical times,” Maes said. “Two unforced errors at the wrong time can cost you and that’s what happened in the fifth game.”

Virginia will return to action tomorrow, facing its second-straight in-state opponent, George Mason, in Mem Gym at 7 p.m.

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