CINCINNATI – Despite trailing 2-0, Cincinnati native Grace Turner posted one of the best performances of her career in her hometown with match-high 19 kills and 14 digs to lead the Cavaliers in a five-set comeback victory (17-25, 25-27, 27-25, 25-16, 15-13) over Xavier Friday evening at the Cintas Center.
With the win, the Cavaliers improved to 3-1 on the season, while the Musketeers slipped to 3-1. The win was the third five-set victory under the direction of second-year head coach Shannon Wells, and first in which the Cavaliers trailed 2-0. For the fourth consecutive match this season, Xavier found itself in a five-set showdown.
Like Turner, right side hitter Mary Shaffer, who also hails from Cincinnati, contributed significantly for the Cavaliers, turning in 14 kills on 41 swings. Middle blocker Abby Tadder posted 12 kills and hit .421 in addition to her six blocks. Setters Ashley Le (33 assists, 13 digs) and Gabby Easton (22 assists, 10 digs) both notched double-doubles, while libero Madison Morey (18 digs) and outside hitter Brooklyn Borum (13 digs) chipped in on the Cavaliers’ back row.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Virginia opened the first with a 9-7 cushion before the Musketeers went on a 14-2 run to lead it, 21-11, later in the set. The Cavaliers tallied five straight points to cut their deficit to just five, but after a called timeout by Xavier, the Musketeers put down four of the next five balls to win the set, 25-17.
- Both teams traded scoring runs early in the second and were neck and neck throughout the frame, which featured 16 tied scores and five lead changes. Tadder’s fourth kill of the set tied the game, 20-20. She tallied her fifth kill of the set a few plays later to give the Cavaliers a 23-21 lead, but Xavier scored three straight to gain set point, 24-23. Coming out of a UVA timeout, the Cavaliers tied the set 24-24, and once again at 25-25, but a Cavalier service error followed by a Xavier block ended the set, 27-25, as the Musketeers led 2-0 entering the break.
- Back-to-back Xavier points late in the third gave the Musketeers match point, 24-23. A Shaffer kill followed by a block from Mattison Matthews and GG Carvacho flipped the score and gave UVA a one-point lead, 25-24. The Musketeers would tie the score one more time (25-25), but a kill by Borum and a Xavier attack error put UVA on the board with a 27-25 decision in game No. 3.
- After trailing 3-0 to open the fourth, it was all Virginia the rest of the way. With Borum behind the service line, Virginia sparked a 9-0 run before scoring five of the last six points to close out the set, 25-16. Turner terminated eight balls in set No. 4, three of which occurred on the final four plays of the frame.
- UVA clung to an 8-7 lead by the time the teams flipped sides of the net midway through the fifth. A Musketeer kill evened the decisive fifth set, 13-13, but Turner and Borum scored on the next two plays, respectively, to complete the comeback over the Musketeers in dramatic fashion.
- With the win, the Cavaliers evened the all-time series with Xavier, 1-1. The first-ever meeting between the two teams was a three-set victory by the Musketeers – also in Cincinnati – on Sept. 9, 2000.
- The victory was the third five-set win under the direction of second-year head coach Shannon Wells, and first in which the Cavaliers trailed 2-0.
- Grace Turner (19 kills, 14 digs), Ashley Le (33 assists, 13 digs) and Gabby Easton (22 assists, 10 digs) contributed double-doubles for the Cavaliers.
- Grace Turner’s 19 kills are the most by a Cavalier since she posted 19 kills in UVA’s five-set win at VCU last season on Sept. 10, 2021.
- Senior defensive specialist Josi Williams corralled her second career service ace in the first set and served for three consecutive UVA points.
Virginia rounds out action at the Xavier Tournament tomorrow (Sept 3) against Purdue Fort Wayne (3-1) at 10 a.m. before facing Eastern Michigan (0-4) at 4 p.m. at the Cintas Center. Both matches are slated to stream on FloVolleyball.tv.