ATHENS, Ohio – Virginia (5-4) snapped a three-match skid with a pair of victories to open the Bobcat Invitational on Friday (Sept. 13). The Cavaliers downed UConn in straight sets before defeating College of Charleston 3-1 in the nightcap.
VIRGINIA 3, UCONN 0
A pair of clutch performances from freshmen helped Virginia open the Bobcat Invitational with a 25-20, 28-26, 25-18, sweep of UConn (3-4). Jayna Francis (Virginia Beach, Va.) served Virginia to a 7-0 run in the second set and an 8-0 run in the third while Mattison Matthews (Charleston, S.C.) paced the Cavaliers with a career-high nine kills and five blocks.
UConn’s Caylee Parker led the match with 12 kills while Jasmine Davis added another 10 for the Huskies.
Set 1: Virginia 25-20
Virginia used five service aces to key a first set victory against the Huskies. Alex Spencer (North Canton, Ohio) produced two of the aces, the first of which sparked a 6-2 run to give Virginia a 15-11 advantage. Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) capped the run with an ace and also added three kills to co-lead the Cavaliers in the frame.
The decisive move came with the set tied at 16-16, as Virginia scored eight of the next 10 points to build a 24-18 lead.
Set 2: Virginia 28-26
UConn floored five of its first six shots in the set en route to a 9-5 advantage. The Huskies would continue their early domination, extending the lead to 15-7. Virginia began to claw its way back into the set with a 6-2 run, trimming the deficit to 17-13. With Francis back at the service line, the Cavaliers reeled off seven-straight points, flipping the set to a 20-17 advantage.
Matthews also caught fire in the middle points, scoring five kills and adding three blocks. With the set in extras, Matthews’ sixth kill of the frame gave Virginia a 28-26 victory.
Set 3: Virginia 25-18
Once again, UConn opened the set on fire, terminating seven of its first eight shots to build a 12-6 lead. Virginia would climb back into the set with a 4-0 run, sparked by a solo block from Francis.
Much like the second set, the serving prowess of Francis turned the tide for the Cavaliers. The freshman served up an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back aces, to stake Virginia to a 20-15 lead.
• Libero Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) racked up 12 digs to give her double-digits for the seventh time this season.
• Novakovic recorded eight kills, giving her eight or more in every match this season.
• Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) experienced a return to form, co-leading the Cavaliers with nine kills.
VIRGINIA 3, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 1
A near record-setting performance at the service line from Jelena Novakovic led Virginia to a 25-9, 12-25, 25-14, 25-21, victory over College of Charleston (0-7) in the nightcap.
Novakovic produced seven aces and added 12 kills to lead Virginia offensively. Sarah Billiard and Jayna Francis each added 11 kills.
Charleston was paced by Peyton Eisnaugle, who floored 10 kills in the match.
Set 1: Virginia 25-9
Novakovic strung together five service aces as part of a 10-0 Virginia run to establish an 11-1 lead to open the match. Virginia would commit just a single error in the frame, hitting .440 in the rout.
The 16-point margin marked the largest set victory for Virginia since 2003.
Set 2: Charleston 25-12
The script flipped in the second set as the Cougars aced Virginia three times and capitalized on a sluggish Cavalier attack. Virginia fired 11 errant shots and hit negative-.125 with just six kills in the set.
Eisnaugle led Charleston with two kills and a quartet of blocks in the set.
Set 3: Virginia 25-14
After the two sides traded points to an 11-10 Charleston lead, Virginia put together a 6-0 run on the strength of another Novakovic service run. The senior notched her sixth and seventh aces of the match, setting a new career high.
Virginia hit a match-best .444 in the set to pull away.
Set 4: Virginia 25-21
Charleston used an overpass and an ace to mount a 3-0 run and build a 13-10 lead in the set. The advantage would hold to 17-14 as the Cougars’ three aces in the frame provided the difference.
Milla Ciprian (St. John’s, Fla.) and Christine Jarman (Boynton Beach, Fla.) helped Virginia turn the set with a 5-0 run. Jarman had a pair of kills while Ciprian had one and the pair added a block for four of the five points in the spurt. After Charleston tied it at 20-20, Jarman sparked a 3-0 run with a kill to put the Cavaliers ahead for good.
• Novakovic’s seven aces mark a career high and are tied for the third-most by a Cavalier all-time.
• Kelsey Miller’s 29 digs mark a season high for the libero.
• Virginia had three players (Novakovic, Billiard, Francis) with 10 or more kills for the second time this season.
• Virginia held Charleston to just .039 hitting, the lowest mark by an opponent this season. It’s also the lowest mark by a Cavalier foe since 2012.
Virginia closes the Bobcat Invitational at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 14) against host Ohio.