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Oct. 2, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team landed 15 service aces, led by nine from senior Kayla Sears (Moorpark, Calif.), to defeat Pitt, 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 27-25, 28-26), on Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium.

“It’s a good win for us against a really good team,” head coach Dennis Hohenshelt said. “We believe they are one of the better teams in the conference and have proven that with teams they have beaten this season. We knew we would have to be physical so I was really pleased with the effort the girls gave.”

The 15 aces for Virginia (10-4, 2-1 ACC) were the third-most in school history. Sears’ nine tied the UVa school-record set by Sarah Kirkwood in 2005. Senior Natalie Bausback (Carlsbad, Calif.) added a career-best five.

“Kayla didn’t hit really well tonight so for her to generate points behind the endline was great,” Hohenshelt stated. “We talk about that all the time. Sometimes things aren’t going well, how can you help us win. She was bombing it tonight.”

Defense prevailed in the match with Pittsburgh (12-4, 2-2 ACC) recording 17 blocks, while the Cavaliers finished with 15. Virginia had the edge with 57 kills to 53, but the Panthers out-hit the Cavaliers with a .195 hitting percentage to .155.

“It was a strange match, we hit .155 and won, that rarely happens,” Hohenshelt remarked. “When you add 15 aces and 15 blocks it is a big win.”

Bausback led UVa with 17 kills along with eight blocks. Freshman Anna Walsh (Grapevine, Texas) added 14 kills on .500 hitting with six blocks and junior Haley Kole (Tallahassee, Fla.) recorded 11 kills and a career-best six blocks. Senior Lauren Fuller (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) dished out 49 assists for the Cavaliers.

Virginia took control of the first set behind Sears’ serve with an 8-0 run that included three-straight aces for the senior. The Cavaliers were leading, 23-15, but Pittsburgh rallied with a 6-0 run and eventually tied the set at 24-24. The Panthers went on to take the set in extras, 27-25.

Pittsburgh jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the second set, but the Cavaliers mounted a comeback with a 9-0 run that included three aces from Sears. A kill by Bausback tied the set up at 17-17, and then back-to-back blocks gave UVa a 19-17 advantage. The Cavaliers remained in front to win 25-21 and tie the match at 1-1.

The third set was a battle with 18 ties and 11 lead changes. With the set tied at 25-25, Virginia picked up a block by Walsh and Sears before Sears put down a kill to secure the 27-25 win and a 2-1 lead.

The Cavaliers took an early 5-1 lead in the fourth set, but Pittsburgh rallied to tie the set at 10-10. From there, the teams traded points once again with neither team leading by more than two. Virginia was down, 26-25, but put together three-straight points to take the win 28-26.

“Tomorrow night we get Virginia Tech and the kids are fired up to play them,” Hohenshelt said. “We hope everyone in the Charlottesville area comes out. This is an exciting team that can do some really good things.”

UVa will be back home tomorrow to host Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. in a Commonwealth Clash match. The match also serves as the annual Dig Pink match and the first 300 fans will receive a free pink t-shirt.

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