Sept. 8, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team (3-4) fell 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21) to VCU (7-2) on Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium to open the Jefferson Cup.
Sophomores Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and Alex Spencer (Canton, Ohio) led the Cavaliers offensively. Novakovic finished with 11 kills and added six digs, while Spencer had a career-high 10 kills ad added two aces and two blocks.
“Give a lot of credit to VCU tonight, they are a good team and never let off the pedal,” head coach Aaron Smith said. “They served us tough. I felt like we were in a pretty good rhythm with our serve/receive but they were able to get a few easy points with service pressure. We found ourselves up a few points and all of a sudden, we shank two balls and make a couple of hitting errors and we are down two points. We were just streaky tonight.”
Virginia was out-hit by VCU, .264-.088. VCU also led the match in blocks (8.0-4.0) and aces (9-4). The Cavaliers led in digs, 33-27.
Virginia scored the first point of the match, but VCU went on to take an early 5-2 lead. Spencer sparked some offense for the Cavaliers with a kill followed by a solo block. An ace by Novakovic, closed VCU’s lead to 6-5. The Rams countered with a 6-0 run. Virginia then scored four of the next five points to close the gap to 13-9. The Rams stretched their lead out to 19-11 as the Cavaliers called timeout. VCU held on to take the first set 25-17.
VCU opened the second set with a 4-1 lead, but UVA fought back to tie the set at 5-5. The Rams stretched out to an 8-5 lead but UVA stayed around with a kill by redshirt sophomore Kat Young (Chantilly, Va.) followed by an ace from Spencer. Virginia cut VCU’s lead to one several times, including 20-19 on a block by sophomore Chino Anukwuem (East Hanover, N.J.) and Spencer, but the Rams remained in front to win the set 25-21.
After going down 3-0, Virginia scored three-straight to tie the third set. VCU took a 7-5 lead before a 7-0 run, including three-straight kills by Spencer, put the Cavaliers ahead 12-7. The Rams climbed back in the set with a 5-0 run that knotted it up 15-15. After a timeout, Virginia scored four of the next five points to go up 19-16. However, VCU would six-straight points and nine of the final 11 points to clinch the match with a 25-21 win.
“There was a lot of really good volleyball in there but we just need to be more consistent,” Smith said. “We need to control our side and do the things we know we need to do. We will move on to Howard tomorrow. We have two matches ahead of us so we can’t hold our heads, just have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Virginia will be back in action tomorrow when it hosts Howard at 11:30 a.m. and Ohio at 7 p.m. in Memorial Gymnasium.