Volleyball opens season with three wins
Cavaliers sweep home meet against Marshall, JMU, Montana
Welcoming seven new players as well as another back from injury, the Virginia volleyball team opened its season this weekend, hosting the Jefferson Cup at Memorial Gym.
The women defeated Marshall in their first match 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 29-27) Friday, and continued their success Saturday with a 3-1 win against James Madison (25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 26-24) and a 3-0 win against Montana (25-16, 25-22, 25-23).
From the outset, the Cavaliers received great production from the newcomers. Virginia’s first point against Marshall came on a kill by freshman Jasmine Burton, set up by sophomore transfer Lauren Fuller. Burton was arguably the most important player of the first match, netting a game-high 14 kills and assisting on five blocks. The team as whole tallied eight blocks and hit .340, while holding the Thundering Herd to only a .147 hitting percentage.
“It’s super exciting [to already be contributing], but I definitely can’t get too excited about it,” Burton said. “You have to keep being consistent for games to come, but it does feel pretty good to know that I contributed in such a big way to my team.”
Burton and fellow freshman Haley Kole continued their power hitting in the second match against JMU, combining for 27 kills and three block assists. But it was junior setter-turned-outside-hitter Tori Janowski who took the spotlight, picking up 20 kills, nine digs, two block assists and a service ace.
The match against the Dukes was much harder-fought, with three of the four games being decided by two points each. The margin in hitting percentage was close at .244 for Virginia and .234 for James Madison, but the Cavaliers were able to gain ground in part through cutting their attack errors from a total of 18 in the first two games to six in the second two.
“I think we all played really well as a team and it really showed our effort and how hard we worked over the two weeks of preseason,” Janowski said. “I’m really proud.”
In the final bout of the tournament the Cavaliers posted a second sweep, this time against the Grizzlies. Janowski continued her great play with 21 kills and five aces, and Kole provided a strong presence on the net, tallying 13 kills and a team-best .522 hitting percentage. Despite only playing her first collegiate match the day before, Kole showed glimpses of her future potential, capping off her impressive debut weekend with the match-winning kill against Montana.
“It’s nice to come out and help the team,” Kole said. “Definitely what we want to do is come in and just get better. We look up to all the older girls and just want to pump up the team and do everything we can to make the coaches happy.”
Virginia was well-represented on the All-Tournament Team. Janowski was selected as the Jefferson Cup Most Valuable Player, averaging 5.3 kills per set during the weekend. Fuller and senior Emily Rottman were also named to the team for their performances on the court.
“I think we’re light years ahead of where we were offensively last year,” coach Dennis Hohenshelt said. “Part of this is setting, part of that is those guys hitting right now. This group will take three wins any time right now.”
The team plays a three game slate next weekend in Malibu, Calif. as part of the Pepperdine Invitational. Up first is a match against Colorado State on Friday, followed by contests against host Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.