Nov. 25, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia volleyball team (7-24, 3-17 ACC) dropped its season finale 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-19) to Pitt (25-6, 18-2 ACC) on Saturday afternoon in Memorial Gymnasium.
“It has been a very up and down season,” head coach Aaron Smith said. “We have played some really good volleyball at times and there is a lot to build on with this group. I am proud of how they worked, but we emphasized that the work is only beginning. The offseason is when we will make some big strides with our training.”
Sophomore Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) led Virginia with 11 kills and freshman Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) added 10. Sophomore Chino Anukwuem (East Hanover, N.J.) had a team-high five blocks and Billiard added four.
Virginia and Pitt battled back and forth to begin the match with six ties, until kills by Billiard and Anukwuem gave UVA an 8-6 edge. The Cavaliers stretched it to 9-6 with a block by Anukwuem and Billiard. Pitt responded with a 4-0 run to take a 10-9 lead. UVA regained the lead with kills by Billiard and Novakovic before the teams began trading points again with two more ties. UVA took the lead on two straight points, but Pitt scored the next three to lead 15-14. The Panthers extended their lead to 18-15 when Billiard landed back-to-back kills to cut it back to one. The remainder of the set was close, but Pitt held on to take the 25-21 win.
The Cavaliers fell behind 3-0 in the second set but scored three of the next four to cut it to 4-3. The Panthers had another 3-0 run to lead 7-3. Virginia closed the gap to 9-7 with a kill by Billiard followed by an ace for Miller. A 5-1 run put Pitt in the lead 14-8. Virginia remained close and eventually cut it to 19-16 with a 4-0 run, but Pitt scored five of the final six points to win the second set 25-18.
UVA tied the set 3-3 with a block by junior Harley Sebastian (Atlanta, Ga.) and senior Haley Fauntleroy (Winnetka, Ill.). Pitt scored two straight to take the advantage, but Virginia fought back with a 5-2 run to lead 10-9 on a block by Novakovic and Anukwuem. After trading points, Pitt had a 13-11 advantage with two straight points. Virginia cut the lead to one several times but Pitt would go ahead 17-13 on a 3-0 run and controlled the set to win 25-19.
The Cavaliers led the co-ACC Champion Panthers with 8.0 blocks to 6.0. Pitt out-hit UVA, .288-.190, and had the edge in aces (5-1) and digs (41-36).
“It is tough to see the look on your fourth-years face after her final match,” Smith added. “I am really proud of Haley and everything she has done for this program. She showed a lot of leadership this season for a younger group. I think we have a group of girls that are eager to get to work so I am already looking forward to next year.”