CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia volleyball (3-2) opened the Rutgers Invitational with a 1-1 day after downing Princeton (0-2) 3-1 and falling to Towson (4-1) by the same scoreline.
Freshman Jayna Francis (Virginia Beach, Va.) floored 16 kills in her first career start and hit .429 to help Virginia to a 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory over Princeton. Senior Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) led the match with 17 kills while Milla Ciprian (St. John’s, Fla.) added 11 kills and seven blocks.
SET 1: Virginia 25-23
Princeton floored five of its first six shots to build a 10-3 advantage in the opening set. The Tigers maintained the seven-point advantage up to 14-7 before Virginia launched a comeback.
The Cavaliers scored four-straight points to close the deficit to 14-11. Senior Chino Anukwuem (East Hanover, N.J.) recorded a solo block and followed it up with another rejection alongside junior Christine Jarman (Boynton Beach, Fla.) to get Virginia within a single point at 16-15.
A 4-0 run, keyed by two kills and a block from junior Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) staked Virginia to a 21-19 advantage. The Cavaliers would capitalize on the momentum to close out the set 25-23.
SET 2: Princeton 25-22
In a back-and-forth second set, Princeton answered a 4-0 Virginia run with a 6-1 run of its own to take an 18-16 lead. Trailing 24-18, Virginia reeled off four-consecutive points but the rally fell short as a blocking error sealed the set for Princeton.
Virginia led in kills during the frame, but three Princeton aces provided the difference.
SET 3: Virginia 25-21
The critical third set swung back and forth before Princeton notched back-to-back points to build a 20-18 lead. Virginia responded out of a timeout, however, and surged ahead with a 4-0 run. The Cavaliers continued the run after another timeout, scoring the next two points and closing the set by scoring seven of the last eight.
Francis recorded three kills during the decisive run.
SET 4: Virginia 25-18
A pair of kills from Novakovic sparked a 5-1 start to the fourth for the Cavaliers. Virginia never looked back, hitting an eye-popping .640 in the set to seal the match. UVA floored 18 kills while committing just two errors in the frame.
• Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) paced the match with 19 digs.
• Virginia hit .353 as a team, its highest mark of the year and best since Sept. 8, 2018.
• Ciprian hit a career-best .556 (11-1-18).
The Cavaliers struggled offensively in the nightcap, committing 28 errors in attack. Twenty of those came in the opening two sets as Virginia dug a 2-0 hole. Towson took a 25-11, 25-15, 15-25, 25-20 match.
Jelena Novakovic led the Cavaliers with 14 kills and hit .360 in the match. Towson was led by Olivia Finckel and Annie Ertz with 13 kills apiece. The Tigers hit .295 in the match and racked up six aces.
SET 1: Towson 25-11
A cold start put Virginia in an early hole and Towson stormed away with the set thanks to an 11-0 run to end the frame. The Tigers hit .467 with just a single error in the set while Virginia committed seven errors.
SET 2: Towson 25-15
For a second-straight set, Towson used a late run to pull away. The Tigers closed the set with a 9-0 run to turn a one-point differential into a rout. Virginia committed 13 errors in the set, hitting -.219 in the frame.
SET 3: Virginia 25-15
Virginia came out of the break on fire, hitting .500 with 18 kills in the third set. The result was a runaway victory for the Cavaliers in 25-15 fashion. Five of Novakovic’s 14 kills came in the set while Jayna Francis floored seven kills in the frame.
SET 4: Towson 25-20
Once again a late run proved the difference as Towson used a 7-1 run to overcome a 19-18 deficit. The Cavaliers led the set in kills, but four Towson aces helped the Tigers close out the match. Back-to-back errors ended the match.
• The 28 attack errors are the most in the season for Virginia.
• Kelsey Miller picked up 16 digs in the loss.
Virginia closes the Rutgers Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 7) against the host Scarlet Knights at 2 p.m. The match will be streamed on BTN Plus.