Virginia seeks second conference win
Team kicks off home stand against ACC foes Clemson, Georgia Tech
The Virginia volleyball team plays conference opponents Georgia Tech and Clemson this weekend in the first half of a four-match home slate.
Last weekend, Virginia (7-17, 1-12 ACC) fell in straight sets at No. 11 Florida State and No. 23 Miami. The Seminoles’ strength and physicality proved too much for the Cavaliers, who never broke the 20-point barrier in any set. The team also posted a mere .124 hitting percentage for the match, including .000 percent in the second game.
“During our Florida State match, we sort of just rolled over after the first game,” senior captain Jessica O’Shoney said. “We put up a good fight and then the next two were just awful. We let ourselves down and you don’t feel good about playing like that.”
Against the Hurricanes, the Cavaliers delivered a much improved performance. Although Virginia suffered a loss, the team bettered its hitting percentage to .168 and managed to out-block their hosts, 7.0 to 5.0. The team also scored at least 20 points in all but the final set.
“Florida State, I was disappointed in how [we] played,” coach Dennis Hohenshelt said. “Against Miami, it was like a totally different team. We played hard and I thought we did some good things. We played as hard as they did, and that’s all I ask of them.”
Virginia will face Georgia Tech and Clemson for the second time this season. In their first meetings, both opponents swept the scuffling Cavaliers, who were in the midst of an eight-match skid.
Friday, the Yellow Jackets (16-8, 7-6 ACC) look to get back on track after recently suffering a three-match losing streak of their own. Georgia Tech tries to control the match with its serving and leads the ACC in service aces per set at 1.85. Senior Monique Mead anchors the team at rightside hitter and paces the conference in total aces.
To match the Yellow Jackets, the Cavaliers must be tough on the net and prevent easy scoring opportunities. Georgia Tech’s strong serving could easily force opponents out of system, but Virginia knows such a mistake would spell disaster for its young team.
“We just need to keep working hard and keep up the defensive intensity,” freshman defensive specialist Amanda Barnes said. “We’ve been working a lot on defense, going for every ball. That was one thing that happened [when we played at Georgia Tech], we kind of gave up on a lot of balls.”
Virginia next battles the Tigers (16-8, 7-6 ACC), who won six of their last eight matches with the only two losses coming against Miami and Florida State. The team is the conference’s third best in blocking and relies heavily on its upperclassmen hitters, Sandra Adeleye and Moneshia Simmons, who both average more than 3.00 kills per set and a .230 hitting percentage.
Virginia will attempt to counter Clemson with a strong serving performance. Like the Cavaliers, the Tigers have struggled when out of system and are prone to errors against good serving teams.
This weekend’s matches will allow Virginia to measure its progress against two good teams.
At the start of the year, The Cavaliers featured many new faces, including a coach entirely new to the program. Despite struggling in ACC play, Hohenshelt likened his rebuilding season to the process of a rock breaker who keeps swinging with his hammer. Eventually one swing
will finish the job, but it wouldn’t be successful without the 500 that came before it.
“In the beginning of the season we didn’t really come together in the middle of the huddle, but now we’re coming together as a team rather than six individuals,” Barnes said, “That’s the best part of our game now, because we’re more of a team than we ever were before.”