Virginia visits struggling Eagles, looks to snap losing streak
The Virginia volleyball team heads to Chestnut Hill Thursday to take on Boston College in the first game of a four-match road trip.
The Cavaliers (5-8, 0-3 ACC) lost twice against formidable conference opponents last weekend, falling to Miami in three games and then-No. 15 Florida State in four . The team nonetheless drew confidence from its ability to hang with the two squads. Given the team’s youth, such self-assurance may be vital.
“The freshmen all came together really well against such good competition,” freshman Manon Greskovics-Fuller said. “Now we know what to expect against other ACC teams, and we know what we need to work on for next weekend.”
But it’s hard for a squad striving for a winning record to accept mere moral victories. Adhering to head coach Dennis Hohenshelt’s philosophy, the Cavaliers will not be satisfied until they can win every match.
The team has a chance to add one to the win column Thursday night against the Eagles. Boston College (7-8, 1-2 ACC), like Virginia, looks to turn around a streak of bad seasons. The team has the potential to surprise its conference foes.
“Boston College is a lot like us in that they’re a little younger with some freshmen and sophomores playing on the outside hitter spot, which is pretty critical for them,” Hohenshelt said. “I expect it to be a pretty competitive match, and we’re going to have to play well to beat them, but I think the girls are ready for that.”
So far the Cavalier freshman hitters have shown flashes of brilliance. Last week against Miami freshman Natalie Bausback recorded an excellent .429 hitting percentage, with 12 kills and no errors on 28 total attacks.
The team still requires vast improvement to join the upper echelon of ACC college programs. A big target area has been consistency. Against Florida State, and earlier in the season against No. 23 Western Kentucky, the Cavaliers started out strong and were able to steal the first game against a great opponent. The team stepped back in the following games, however, losing both matches 3-1. The coaches would like to see the team start tough and play that way throughout the entire match.
“There were times during the match where we were level with Florida State, which is a top-15 team in the country,” assistant coach Aaron Smith said. “Knowing we can play at that level, we just need to do it for extended periods of time. If we can do that, we’re going to beat a couple teams in the ACC.”
Hohenshelt’s experience at Penn State, where he helped the Nittany Lions win four national championships during his tenure as an assistant coach, showed what players can accomplish when they give their all each time they take the court. The Cavaliers, too, know progress is attainable only through hard work in practice and in matches.
“I think we can get better at communication and attitude on the court,” Greskovics-Fuller said, “We need to stay competitive and not lie down when we’re losing.”
Starting time for the Boston College match is set for 7 p.m. Thursday. The team visits Maryland for a 2 p.m. Sunday tip-off.