CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia (0-3) continues non-conference play with three matches at the Holiday Inn Express Invitational, hosted by Northern Illinois, on Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1. The Cavaliers will face Nevada (2-1) and Northern Kentucky (2-1) on Friday before taking on NIU (1-3) on Saturday.
Virginia is looking to rebound from a tough opening weekend where the Cavaliers faced three postseason foes from 2017. The Cavaliers were the only ACC squad to play three Power Five opponents on opening weekend.
Fri., Aug. 31 – vs. Nevada – 11 a.m.
Fri., Aug. 31 – vs. Northern Kentucky – 4 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 1 – at NIU – 2 p.m.
For a second consecutive week, the Cavaliers face a pair of new opponents in Nevada and Northern Kentucky. Virginia will meet Northern Illinois for the second time in program history with the Huskies having claimed a 3-1 win in the only previous meeting back in 1986.
Sophomore Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) picked up right where she left off in her ACC All-Freshman campaign. The outside pummeled an ACC-best 52 kills on opening weekend.
Billiard averaged 4.00 kills per set and ranks 33rd nationally in total kills. Adding in her seven blocks, Billiard is 48th in the country with 57.0 points through three matches.
Junior libero Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) leads the ACC with 59 digs after the opening weekend of matches. Miller recorded a pair of matches with 20 or more digs, averaging 4.54 per set.
Miller ranks 51st nationally in total digs and eclipsed the 700-dig mark over the weekend.
CHINO ON THE BLOCK
With 15 blocks on opening weekend, junior Chino Anukwuem (Hanover, N.J.) outproduced any weekend from her 2017 season. Seven of those were solo stuffs, which is over halfway to Anukwuem’s career best of 13 for an entire season.
Anukwuem averaged 1.15 rejections per set on opening weekend. That mark would be a career best for the junior.
OPENING WEEKEND REVIEW
Virginia sits at 0-3 on the season after the Iowa State Challenge. Despite the record, the Cavaliers had their chances on opening weekend, outhitting Ole Miss and holding a 2-1 lead against Oregon State.
The service line proved the difference against Ole Miss, where the Rebels racked up 10 aces. The Hoos outperformed the Rebels in kills (55-49), hitting (.199-.125) and blocks (12-9) but it was not enough to overcome the service differential.
Against Oregon State, the Cavaliers held leads in the fourth and fifth sets, but the veteran Beavers rallied back to win the match, 3-2.