Hohenshelt criticizes Volleyball team's 'embarrassing' effort after losses

Virginia volleyball coach Dennis Hohenshelt: Cavalier players 'got outworked on every point'


As coach Dennis Hohenshelt searched for a way to describe his team’s performance Saturday in a 3-0 loss to NC State — its second shutout loss of the weekend — one word resurfaced again and again: embarrassing.

“The way they played, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m coaching them because obviously I’m not doing a good job with them to get through to them,” Hohenshelt said. “They should be embarrassed with the way they represented themselves tonight. I guess that’s the word of the weekend right, it’s ‘embarrassing.’”

Hosting two Tobacco Roads teams during the weekend, the Cavaliers dropped matches to No. 13 North Carolina Friday and NC State Saturday. After the loss to the Wolfpack, Hohenshelt was in no mood to mince words.

“I think there’s lots of lessons the team can take away, and one of them is to be better,” Hohenshelt said. “They have to play hard for every point, because the last two matches they got outworked on every point and got outplayed on every point, and I got outcoached on every point. Either they’re going to get better or there’s going to be a lot of weekends like this.”

So far this season, the Cavaliers (10-10, 3-5 ACC) have looked vastly improved from last year’s team, which lost its first 10 conference matches. The two matches this weekend, however, showed that they still have a ways to go before they can compete with the top teams in the ACC.

“We played two really good teams,” senior Emily Rottman said. “We know what the top level of the ACC is now. So going from that, we know exactly how we’re going to have to play to beat those top teams now.

After splitting matches the previous weekend against Syracuse and Boston College, Virginia looked to move above .500 in conference play for the first time since 2009. However, North Carolina (18-1, 7-1 ACC) proved too much for the Cavaliers as they took the match in straight sets.

The Tar Heels dominated the first set, hitting .303 to Virginia’s -.107. The second and third sets were much closer, but the Cavaliers could not match their opponents’ physicality at the net, losing the blocking battle 8 to 2. Freshman Haley Kole and junior Tori Janowski tied for the team lead in the match with 12 kills apiece, while Rottman registered a match-high 12 digs, but the Cavaliers fell 25-12, 26-24, 25-19.

“We fought hard at times,” Rottman said. “On Friday night, I thought we played some really good volleyball. We were doing the right things, hitting the right spots, but [Saturday night] I just thought we needed to be smarter and make the easy plays and we just couldn’t do that in the end.”

In the match Saturday, the Wolfpack (15-5, 6-2 ACC) came out strong and seemed to return every attack the Cavaliers made. NC State held the edge in hitting percentage, .269 to .094, and digs, 57 to 46, en route to a 3-0 win. One of the few positives for Virginia was leading in blocks, 9 to 6, as the team trailed its opponent in virtually every other category en route to a 25-21, 25-17, 25-14 loss.

While the rest of the team struggled, Rottman — Virginia’s lone senior — had another strong performance. She tallied 19 digs against the Wolfpack and totaled 31 on the weekend. She is now fifth in the ACC with 4.33 digs per set, and has been a leader on the young squad both on and off the court.

“I thought Emily Rottman played extremely hard and was really good, and if we had everyone else giving her effort then we might be a little dangerous,” Hohenshelt said. “But right now, it’s one person out there giving effort and five people watching her.”

The Cavaliers pay a visit to in-state rival Virginia Tech Wednesday, then come back home to host Notre Dame for the first time ever as an ACC foe Sunday afternoon. Hohenshelt will be searching for more effort from his players to turn things around.

“Part of it is they have to be willing to play a little bit harder than what they are,” Hohenshelt said. “They have to motivate themselves.”

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