Oct. 6, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team (4-12, 0-4 ACC) fell 3-1 (31-29, 25-15, 22-25, 25-16) to Notre Dame (12-4, 2-3 ACC) on Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium.
It was a close match that saw 34 ties scores and 19 lead changes throughout. The first set took extra points as the Notre Dame edged UVA 31-29, in a set that saw 17 ties and 10 lead changes. The Cavaliers came back from down 11-4 in the third set to win 25-22 and send the match to a fourth. Notre Dame controlled the final set to take the win.
“I am proud of the way the team fought tonight,” head coach Aaron Smith said. “When you play at the level we do and have two good teams playing, you want to be in the situations where the game is a battle. With a young team, this is how you grow and build. I would take close set battles any day and we will start winning some of those eventually. We are playing with the top teams in the conference. Obviously, you hope you pick up some wins in there, but we are going to keep getting better.”
Four players finished with double-digit kills for Virginia. Freshman Alex Spencer (Canton, Ohio) led the Cavaliers with 15 kills and finished with a double-double, adding a career-high 22 digs. Sophomore Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) had 14 kills, while junior Harley Sebastian (Atlanta, Ga.) and sophomore Kiley Banker (West Lafayette, Ind.) each had 10 kills.
Banker hit .526 on the night to pace UVA to a .204 hitting percentage. Jemma Yeadon led Notre Dame with 24 kills as the Irish hit .265 as a team. Notre Dame led the match in blocks (16.5-7.0) and aces (10-4). UVA had the advantage in digs (73-68).
The opening set was a battle from the beginning. The teams were tied 4-4 when Notre Dame scored two-straight to take the lead. The Cavaliers stayed close and later used a 3-0 run to swing the set in their favor, 9-8. Notre Dame tied it up once again and would go ahead 13-10 as UVA called timeout. UVA was down 19-16, when it used a 5-1 run that included three kills by Novakovic to regain the lead, 21-20. From there the teams began trading points and the lead with nine ties. UVA was leading 29-28, but a 3-0 run gave Notre Dame the 31-29 win to take the set.
Virginia took a 3-2 lead in the second set on a block by Novakovic and Young. Notre Dame responded with four-straight points and use several more runs and went on to take the second set 25-14.
The Cavaliers were trailing 11-4 in the fourth set, but a 4-0 run cut the lead to 11-8. One point later, UVA went on a 5-0 run to take the lead on a kill by Spencer, 13-12. The teams saw nine tie scores to make it 22-22. UVA scored the final three points of the set to win 25-22, with kills by redshirt sophomore Kat Young (Chantilly, Va.) and Sebastian then set-point on an ace from Spencer.
Virginia scored the first two points of the fourth set with kills by Spencer and Novakovic. Notre Dame responded with a 6-1 run to lead 6-1. The Irish extended their lead with a 4-0 run to go ahead 10-4. UVA closed the gap with back-to-back kills by Spencer to make it 13-11, but Notre Dame had another run to lead 17-11. The Irish held on the take the set 25-16 and clinch the match.
Virginia will be back in action on Sunday when it hosts Louisville at 1 p.m. in Memorial Gymnasium.