Cavaliers Fall Just Short at Virginia Tech, Drop Five-Set Match to Hokies
BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking and hard-fought five-set battle with in-state rival Virginia Tech in Cassell Coliseum Friday evening by scores of 25-17, 17-25, 26-24, 23-25 and 11-15. The five-set match marks the fourth time in the last seven meetings that the Hokies and ‘Hoos have required a deciding frame to determine a winner, while it is also the second time this year.
With the win, the Hokies complete the season sweep of Virginia and improve to 19-11 this year and 10-10 in the ACC. The Cavaliers conclude their season with an overall record of 14-16 and 8-12 in the league.
ACC Freshman of the Year McKenzie Adams led the Cavaliers with a match-high 18 kills and 10 digs for her sixth double-double this year. Her 18 kills improves her season total to 264, which stands ninth among all Cavaliers in their rookie campaign.
Defensively, senior AJ Cushman led Virginia with 21 digs to move her season total to 543 – the fourth-best single season mark in UVa history. The libero’s four-year total of 1,432 digs stands as the fourth-best career mark in program history.
Sharing setting duties, redshirt sophomore Beth Wildermuth dished out 22 assists, while sophomore Rachel Gray contributed 20.
At the net, senior Sydney Hill led the way with a match-high six blocks and junior Simone Asque registered five.
For Virginia Tech, four Hokies reached double figures in kills. Led by Justine Record’s 14 kills and 18 digs, Cara Baarendse notched 13 kills, while Jennifer Wiker had 11 and Felicia Willoughby had 10. Defensively, Morgan O’Neill earned 21 digs and Victoria Hamsher and Willoughby added five blocks.
Throughout the match, the Cavaliers committed a season-high 17 service errors, while landing five aces. The Hokies weren’t much more successful from behind the line, missing 10 serves as compared to two aces.
Offensively, Virginia Tech knocked down 61 kills as opposed to Virginia’s 49, and outhit the Cavaliers .159-.141. Defensively, the Hokies led in digs, 86-59, while the Cavaliers led in blocks, 14.0-11.0.
Virginia recovered from a slow start at the beginning of the first set. Despite falling behind 9-4, the Cavaliers rallied for a 6-0 run to even the score at 11 and then pulled ahead 14-11. Another 6-0 streak gave the Cavaliers a commanding 20-12 lead and Virginia was able to take advantage of its late momentum, going on to win the set, 25-17.
The Cavaliers were unable to carry the momentum into the second stanza though, as they found themselves trailing at 12-6. UVa was able to rally and cut its deficit to four, at 14-10, but the Cavaliers were unable to pull any closer, as the Hokies went on to win, 25-17.
Both squads came out of the intermission ready to battle. With 14 tie scores and nine lead changes throughout the third game, neither team was able to gain more than a two-point advantage. Down 23-21, the Cavaliers rallied for two-straight points to knot the score at 23, forcing Virginia Tech to call a timeout. Playing without a sub in an untraditional rotation, Hill and Gray teamed to block a Hokie attack and earn the first set point of the frame for UVa. The Cavaliers were unable to close out the stanza though, committing a service error and bringing the score at 24 all. Adams then stepped up on the final two plays of the set, knocking down back-to-back kills to secure the 26-24 win for Virginia.
The third set was another fierce battle between the two squads. With the score knotted 11 times, including at every point from 14 through 23, the Hokies earned the first game-point opportunity with a kill to pull ahead 24-23. Record then secured a fifth-set for Tech with a second-straight kill for the Hokie win, 25-23.
Virginia Tech came out with energy in the deciding set, cruising to a 4-0 lead and forcing the Cavaliers to burn a timeout. Virginia rallied and came within one following a block from Hill and junior Tess Udall, but the Hokies were able to extend their lead back to five, at 12-7. Three-straight points by the Cavaliers brought the score to 12-10, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off the Hokies as they scored three of the final four points of the match to secure a 15-11 victory.
Tonight’s match marked the final contest for Virginia’s seniors: AJ Cushman, Sydney Hill and Kendahl Voelker.