Sept. 2, 2017
BOONE, N.C. – Freshman Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) tallied 20 kills to lead the Virginia volleyball team (3-3) to a 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 26-24, 25-21) win over Appalachian State (2-5) to close out the Appalachian State Invitational on Saturday night at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, N.C.
Virginia had its offense working with 59 kills on a .240 hitting percentage. UVA’s defense held App State to just 46 kills on a .127 attack percentage. The Cavaliers had a 61-58 edge in digs and led 11.0 to 7.0 in blocks.
“I am proud of how the team responded after not playing our best to start the tournament,” Smith said. “Everyone stepped up tonight to earn this win. App State is a tough team, particularly on its home court. THis is going to be a great win for us come the end of the year. We know we have some strengths to enhance and some weaknesses to address, but that is what this non-conference schedule is all about.”
It was the first time Billiard has recorded over 20 kills in her young collegiate career. The performance earned Billiard a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Along with Billiard, three other Cavaliers recorded double-digit kills. Freshman Alex Spencer (Canton, Ohio) had a double-double with career-highs in kills (12) and digs (14). Sophomores Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and Chino Anukwuem (East Hanover, N.J.) each added 10 kills.
At the net, senior Haley Fauntleroy and Novakovic led the way with five blocks each. Anukwuem and freshman setter Megan Wilson (Brookeville, Md.) added four. Wilson finished with a career-best 51 assists on the night. Sophomore Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) had 17 digs to lead the back line.
Virginia jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first set. App State pulled within one, 6-5, but the Cavaliers used a 5-1 run to lead 11-6. The Mountaineers closed the gap to two several times, including 17-15 as UVA called timeout. UVA responded with a 6-2 run to go up 23-17. Virginia remained in control to win the set 25-20.
UVA and App State remained close to begin the second set. With the score tied 4-4, UVA scored three-straight and six of the next eight points, capped off by a kill for Fauntleroy, to lead 10-6. The Mountaineers responded with a 6-0 run to take a 12-10 lead. UVA hit right back with a 3-0 run to lead 13-12. The teams traded points back-and-forth until App State rallied for a run to lead 17-14. UVA cut it to 20-18 on a kill by Anukwuem, but App State kept control to take the second set 25-20 and tie the match 1-1.
The Cavaliers had another strong start in the third, leading App State 6-1 early in the set. Novakovic had back-to-back kills and combined with Fauntleroy for a block during the run. UVA later used a 5-0 run, including two kills from Billiard and one from Spencer, to stretch its lead to 13-5. App State stuck around and put together a 9-2 run to tie the set at 16-16. The teams saw six more ties until two-straight points gave UVA the 26-24 win.
The fourth set was close with neither team leading by more than two points until UVA pushed ahead 16-13 on a block by Wilson and Anukwuem. The Mountaineers came back to tie it at 16-16, but a kill by Billiard sparked a 3-0 run that put UVA in the lead 19-16. App State remained close but two-straight kills from Anukwuem and Billiard closed out the 25-21 win to clinch the match.
“We are excited to get in the gym on Monday and work,” Smith said. “We can’t wait to be back playing in front of our home crowd on Friday night.”
Virginia will return home to host the Jefferson Cup on Sept. 8-9 in Memorial Gymnasium. The Cavaliers will face VCU, Howard and Ohio.