CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – In the first meeting of the season series, Virginia (9-6, 1-1 ACC) bested rival Virginia Tech (7-7, 0-1 ACC) 28-26, 23-25, 25-13, 25-20, in the Commonwealth Clash presented by Virginia529 on Friday night (Sept. 27) in Memorial Gymnasium.
In front of a capacity crowd of 1,089 fans, the Cavaliers piled up 13 aces to upend the Hokies. The 13 aces are the most for Virginia since 2015 and the fourth most all-time in a four-set match. Seniors Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.) each racked up five aces. The total marked a career high for Miller.
Offensively, four Cavaliers finished the match with double-digit kills. Freshman Mattison Matthews (Charleston, S.C.) led the way with a career-high 12 terminations. Novakovic and junior Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) each floored 11 kills while rookie Jayna Francis added 10.
Marisa Cerchio led the Hokies with a match-high 15 kills.
SET 1: Virginia 28-26
Virginia Tech built an early 10-7 lead in the set behind a .444 hitting percentage. Virginia answered with a 4-0 run, sparked by a thunderous kill from Matthews. The Hokies responded with a run of their own, eventually building a 17-13 lead.
Virginia clawed its way back at the service line, as four aces proved crucial in the frame. Novakovic rattled off back-to-back aces to move Virginia in front by a 22-21 score. It would take extra points for the Cavaliers, but Christine Jarman (Boynton Beach, Fla.) closed the set with another ace to put Virginia up 1-0 in the match.
SET 2: Virginia Tech 25-23
In the second set, Virginia was the early aggressor on its way to a 9-6 lead. Megan Wilson (Brookville, Md.) uncorked an ace to cap the quick start. Virginia Tech responded with a 5-0 run to build a 14-12 advantage. Cerchio sparked the Hokie run with a kill and the teams then traded points as Virginia Tech maintained its advantage to 22-20.
Virginia would push and close within 24-23 but Anabel Zier floored her third kill of the set to level the match.
SET 3: Virginia 25-13
Virginia used a 9-1 run to break a 4-4 tie and open a 13-5 lead. The Cavaliers went on to hit .441 in the set and run away with the 25-13 frame. Novakovic, Matthews and Billiard each floored four kills for Virginia.
The Cavalier defense stifled the Hokies in the set, holding them to an .029 hitting percentage.
SET 4: Virginia 25-20
Virginia Tech came out in the fourth and established an early 9-6 lead after a kill by Ester Talamazzi. Down 11-9, Virginia went on a 5-1 spurt to take its first lead of the set. An ace from Kristen Leland (Dallas, Texas) and kill from Novakovic staked the Cavaliers to a slim 14-12 advantage.
Virginia Tech rallied to level the frame at 15-15, but Virginia would make the decisive move just points later. Leading 19-18, the Cavaliers scored the next four points with the run fittingly capped by another ace. This time it was Miller who found the touch at the service line, recording Virginia’s 13th ace of the match.
• Francis added 13 digs to record her first career double-double (10 K, 13 D).
• Middle blockers Milla Ciprian (St. John’s, Fla.) and Matthews each hit .429 in the match and had four blocks.
• Miller racked up 20 digs to lead the match.
• With its ninth win of the season, Virginia has surpassed its win total from 2018.
Friday’s match was sponsored by Virginia529, the official college savings plan of University of Virginia Athletics. With Virginia’s victory, the Hoos have earned one-half point in the Commonwealth Clash presented by Virginia529. The score for the Clash is now University of Virginia – 1.5 and Virginia Tech – 0. Learn more about Virginia529 and this competition at TheCommmonwealthClash.com.
Virginia hits the road to face Florida State and Miami next weekend.