Virginia nabs ACC victories
Squad downs Eagles, Terps to secure first win streak since August
After dropping six straight matchups, the Virginia volleyball team racked up its first multiple-game win streak since Aug. 27 with a 3-0 sweep of Boston College and a thrilling 3-1 victory against Maryland this weekend. The wins thrust the Cavaliers (10-17, 4-13 ACC) out of last place in the conference standings and mark their first triumphs against ACC foes since Oct. 15.
"Our team has shown a lot of resiliency this weekend, [and] they persevered through a lot of adversity," Virginia coach Lee Maes said. "It's nice to come out here and play a lot of good volleyball."
Friday evening against the Eagles (7-21, 3-14 ACC), Virginia fought back during the first and third sets after falling behind 17-12 and 18-12, respectively, to secure a decisive 3-0 victory.
Junior middle blocker Jessica O'Shoney and senior outside hitter Simone Asque led late offensive charges and played crucial roles in both Cavalier comebacks. During the first set, O'Shoney and Asque recorded the set-winning final two points after the Eagles and the Cavaliers traded shots and found themselves deadlocked in a 26-26 tie. Later on during the third set, Asque again stepped up in the clutch to deliver back-to-back kills after Virginia failed to capitalize on a 24-22 late advantage.
With Boston College knocking on the door, the senior standout helped spark a 3-0 Virginia run to close out the set and secure the team's first win in nearly four weeks of play.
"[I was] very happy [about this weekend] because it's hard when we work so hard and play well, and we're not getting results we want," Asque said. "But it's nice to see that we're working hard and putting in the hours in the gym and finally getting wins from it."
After Friday's hard-fought matchup, early errors and a lackadaisical effort by Virginia threatened to end the team's modest win streak during the squad's Saturday evening showdown against Maryland (9-20, 3-14 ACC). But led by four Cavaliers who recorded double-digit kills, Virginia overcame a 25-14 opening-set loss to capture the next two sets and take a 2-1 lead into the fourth contest. During the fourth set, the Terrapins seemed revved up for a fifth, winner-take-all set, but the Cavaliers dashed their foe's hopes by reeling off seven straight points to force a 25-all tie.
Freshman right side hitter Tori Janowski, who battled through injury Saturday, contributed spot-on serves during Virginia's run before recording her 13th kill of the evening off a set-up from junior setter Beth Wildermuth to give the Cavaliers a 30-28 victory.
"[Janowski did] injure her groin, but [Saturday was] her birthday and she came out and made some big plays, especially the big run at the end of game four to get us back and have a chance to win this game," Maes said.
Looking forward, Asque hopes to build on the momentum gained this past weekend to conclude the season - and her career at Virginia - on a high note.
"I know personally - and I think the whole team would agree with this - we want to try and win the rest of our games at home so we can kind of solidify the rest of our season even though it really didn't go well so far," Asque said. "If we can end it strong, then at least we're ending on a good note, especially because I'm about to leave and my career will be over. So I would definitely love to leave in a blaze of glory."
The Cavaliers' next opportunity to make up for lost time will be next weekend as they welcome N.C. State and North Carolina to Charlottesville aiming to build their first three-game win streak in more than a year. Both Friday and Saturday matchups are slated to begin at 7 p.m.