Nov. 17, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Virginia volleyball team (7-21, 3-14 ACC) came back to win the third and fourth sets but Miami (18-5, 12-5 ACC) held on to take the 3-2 (25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-27, 15-10) win on Friday night in Memorial Gymnasium on Senior Night.
Virginia fell behind 2-0 in the match, but a 25-21 win in the third set extended the match. The Cavaliers hit .419 in the fourth set with freshman Alex Spencer (North Canton, Ohio), sophomore Chino Anukwuem (East Hanover, N.J.) and freshman Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) each landing six kills to win 27-25 and send the match to a fifth set. UVA was up 5-1, but Miami surged ahead and took the match with a 15-10 win.
“At halftime, the message was to take the next three sets that we were about to play and grow up,” head coach Aaron Smith said. “I knew we had the fight in us to extend it to four and five sets. We were relying on three freshmen, and two of them to take 50 swings each, in a five-set match. We grew up a lot in that match. It is hard to swallow a five-set loss but we learned a lot about ourselves tonight.”
Billiard led UVA with 15 kills, while Spencer added 14 and Anukwuem had 13. Spencer finished with a double-double with 10 digs. Anukwuem was strong at the net with a career-high nine blocks.
“Chino played phenomenal tonight,” Smith said. “She showed up as the blocker that we knew she can be.”
Anukwuem combined with sophomore Jennifer Wineholt (San Diego, Calif.) five times on blocks. Wineholt had a career-high seven blocks and a career-high nine kills, moving to the outside hitter position. Freshman Megan Wilson (Brookeville, Md.) dished out 47 assists and sophomore Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) paced the back line with 21 digs.
Miami took the first three points before UVA rattled off five of its own, senior Haley Fauntleroy (Winnetka, Ill.) had the first UVA kill on senior day. From there both teams traded points. Virginia was leading 11-10, but Miami would win the next three points to go up 17-11. Virginia never regained its footing after trailing by as many as eight points. Anukwuem paced UVA with a hitting percentage of .750.
Miami jumped out to an early lead with the help of a 6-0 run in the second set. They led at 9-1, forcing UVA to call a timeout. The Cavaliers responded well out of the timeout, taking four straight to make the score 9-5. Virginia would cut the lead down to two, 11-9. Miami answered with a 5-0 run to push the lead to 16-9. Miami would lead from there, winning the set 25-17 again.
UVA prevented Miami from getting out a quick start. Both teams traded points, and it was tied 5-5 after 10 points. Virginia would take five of the next six, forcing Miami to call a timeout. After the timeout, Virginia continued to keep the Hurricanes at bay, holding onto a 15-12 lead. Miami would eventually tie the game at 19, but Virginia answered with two straight to push its lead to 21-19. UVA would hold on for a 25-21 win in set 3.
Virginia opened the fourth set with a 6-1 advantage. Miami would answer with a 5-0 run to knot the set at 6-6. However, it was Virginia’s turn to pull ahead, going up 13-9. Miami would take four of the next five to make it 14-13. Virginia and Miami battled back-and-forth, but UVA would then take two in a row to advance its lead to 21-19. Miami wouldn’t go away and held off three set points, but UVA eventually took the set 27-25.
UVA went ahead 3-0 and would go on to take a 5-1 lead, but Miami fought back with a 6-0 run to lead 8-6. The Hurricanes stretched their lead to 14-8. Virginia held off two match-points, but Miami would take the set 15-10 to clinch the match.
Virginia led in blocks 13.0-12.0. Miami had the advantage in hitting percentage, .311-.189, digs, 69-60, and aces, 4-3.
Virginia will host Florida State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Memorial Gymnasium. The match will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.