Squad finishes home schedule
Improved efficiency, firm defense key turnaround; team hosts Terps, Eagles
The Virginia volleyball team concludes its home schedule this weekend against Maryland and Boston College in Memorial Gymnasium.
Riding momentum from a historic weekend that included wins against Miami and Florida State, the Cavaliers are finally coming into their own.
"We've been really relying on a lot of young people, and they are starting to get the hang of it and getting used to playing with each other," senior defensive specialist A.J. Cushman said. "It's just all starting to come together in the second half of the season."
During the season's first half, Virginia lost three straight matches against ranked opponents and also lost its first four ACC contests. Since then, the Cavaliers have compiled a 6-3 record, including their first victory against a ranked opponent with a five-set thriller against Florida State.
"The weekend was a testament to our team's continued effort, focus and perseverance," coach Lee Maes said. "We've been improving throughout the year and we finally put it together."
Although last weekend's victories could help Virginia's chances to make the NCAA Tournament, Maes said his team cannot become complacent.
The Cavaliers (12-11, 6-7 ACC) defeated both Maryland and Boston College earlier this season. In what Maes described as a "topsy-turvy" conference, however, Virginia will not take the Terrapins (16-9, 7-6 ACC) and Eagles (8-18, 0-13 ACC) for granted.
During the team's turnaround, Virginia's offense has general become more efficient. Emerging players such as freshman outside hitter McKenzie Adams, who ranks third on the team in kills and has recorded five double-doubles on the season, have bolstered the Cavalier offense. Defensively, Cushman has served as the backbone of the back row. Virginia's strong front line, moreover, ranks second in the conference in blocking. Virginia will need to deliver a strong defensive performance against Maryland, which leads the conference in service aces.
"It's our last home games so I think were going to come out the same we did this weekend," junior outside hitter Tess Udall said. "The matches are just as big as the ones we just won."
To add the game's importance, the Cavaliers will hold a Senior Day ceremony prior to Saturday's game against Boston College.
"It's bittersweet," Cushman said. "It's really exciting because I get to celebrate that its my fourth year, I've gotten to make so many great relationships and I've learned so much. But at the same time it's coming to an end."
Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.