CORAL GABLES, Fla. – A shorthanded Virginia squad (9-8, 1-3 ACC) dropped a five-set thriller to Miami (7-5, 3-1 ACC) by a score of 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11, on Sunday (Oct. 6).
Junior Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) led the Cavalier effort with 17 kills. Freshman Jayna Francis (Virginia Beach, Va.) added another 13 and senior Jelena Novakovic (Belgrade, Serbia) floored 12 for Virginia. Junior Alex Spencer (North Canton, Ohio) stepped into the libero role for a second-straight match following the injury to Kelsey Miller (Crestwood, Ky.). Spencer finished with a team-leading 12 digs.
Janet Kalaniuvalu paced Miami with 15 kills. Kennedy Prince and Madison Dill joined her in double figures with 12 and 11, respectively. The Hurricanes also racked up 10 aces to hold off Virginia.
Set 1: Miami 25-18
Miami hit .407 in the opening set on its way to a 25-18 victory. A 4-0 run helped the Hurricanes build a 16-10 advantage in the middle of the frame. Two blocks sparked the rally for Miami, who never looked back in controlling the set.
Set 2: Virginia 25-20
Virginia tightened up defensively in the second set, holding Miami to just .086 hitting. Christine Jarman (Boynton Beach, Fla.) sparked a 4-0 Virginia run to build an 8-4 lead. Jarman had a kill and a block in the run.
As Virginia slowly pulled away, a 3-0 run featuring another block from Jarman and Mattison Matthews (Charleston, S.C.) put the Cavaliers up 17-10. Miami would close within 24-20 with a 3-0 rally of its own, but Billiard floored the final point to level the match.
Set 3: Miami 25-21
The Cavaliers raced to a 4-0 lead to begin the pivotal third set but Miami settled in and slowly reeled Virginia in. After drawing level at 10-10, both sides traded 3-0 runs back and forth until the set stood even at 18-18. Francis floored a kill to give Virginia a 21-20 advantage but Miami would finish the frame on a 5-0 run.
All five of Miami’s points in the spurt were via Virginia errors. The Hurricanes had a pair of blocks and benefited from three unforced Virginia errors.
Set 4: Virginia 25-21
The Cavaliers once again responded with a defensive surge. Virginia held Miami to an .070 hitting percentage in the fourth set, forcing seven errors. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 7-1 lead thanks to back-to-back blocks. Novakovic and Milla Ciprian (St. John’s, Fla.) teamed up for the first rejection before Matthews followed with a solo stuff.
Virginia continued its onslaught, reaching set point at 24-15 before Miami strung together six-straight points. Ciprian and Jarman closed the set, however, with another block to send the match to a decisive fifth.
Set 5: Miami 15-11
Virginia jumped to a 6-2 advantage in the fifth but the lead was short-lived. The Hurricanes stormed back with a 5-0 run to take the lead. Dill floored three kills in the Miami run. Virginia would never regain the lead, as Miami used a key block and a service ace to earn the match.
• Sunday marked the third time in the past four meetings Miami and Virginia have gone to five sets.
• Four Cavaliers finished with double-digit digs. Joining Spencer (12) were Jarman and Kristen Leland (Dallas, Texas) with 11 apiece and Francis with 10.
• Francis recorded the second double-double of her career with 13 kills and 10 digs.
• Ciprian hit a career-best .583 (7-0-12) in the match.
• Ciprian added five blocks while Matthews had four, including two solo stuffs.
• Virginia suffered a loss while leading in hitting percentage for the first time this season. The Cavaliers held a .197-.185 advantage.
Virginia continues its road swing with matches at Boston College and Syracuse next weekend.