CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia (1-1, 0-1 ACC) dropped a 25-23, 25-17, 25-18 match to No. 14 Duke (3-0, 3-0 ACC) in the Cavaliers’ ACC opener in Memorial Gymnasium on Friday (Oct. 2).

Redshirt sophomore Grace Turner (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Cavaliers with 12 kills and nine digs in her return to the court. Turner made her first appearance since suffering a season-ending injury in the second match of the 2019 season. Senior Alex Spencer (North Canton, Ohio) led the match with 17 digs.

Payton Schwantz and Gracie Johnson led Duke with 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Both hit over .400 in the match to drive the Blue Devil attack to a .319 performance as a team.

“You know, I thought that we did some good things,” head coach Aaron Smith said. “I told the team after the match there was fight all the way through the third set. You could see it in their eyes they wanted to compete… Fortunately, we get another chance at them tomorrow and we’ll tweak a few things, kind of evaluate if there’s something we want to change and we’ll be ready tomorrow.”

SET 1: Duke 25-23

After Duke opened a 9-6 advantage to begin the match, Virginia clawed back to take a 16-13 lead midway through. Turner scored five times and added an ace to help Virginia gain the edge.

The Cavaliers would maintain a narrow lead to 21-19 before Duke mounted a late rally. The Blue Devils would score the final two points from a 23-23 tie to earn the first set.

SET 2: Duke 25-17

Duke hit .447 in the middle frame to command the set. Gracie Johnson led Duke with five kills in the set. The Blue Devils used a 7-3 run to pull away in the middle of the set, recording 19 kills in the frame while committing just two errors.

SET 3: Duke 25-18

Much like the first set, the third featured back-and-forth action in a narrow frame. Sophomore Mattison Matthews (Charleston, S.C.) recorded four kills on eight swings to lead the Cavaliers. Matthews keyed a 3-0 Virginia run early in the set to draw even at 8-8. Minutes later, she punctuated a second 3-0 run to even the frame at 17-all.

Duke pulled away in the closing points, scoring the last five of the set, to earn the 25-18 win and the sweep. The Blue Devils got back-to-back blocks to cap the match.


  • Turner added a pair of aces from the service line to her stellar return.
  • Sophomore Maddie Boylston (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) added two aces.
  • Spencer recorded double-digit digs for the second time this season and fourth consecutive match dating back to 2019.
  • Senior Sarah Billiard (Matthews, N.C.) recorded eight kills while committing just one error.


Virginia and Duke meet again Saturday night (Oct. 3) at 6:30 p.m. on ACCNX.