Semester in review: Virginia sports

Ten memorable moments in Cavalier athletics


Juniors Justin Anderson, Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon helped Virginia to 30 wins in 2014-15. The Cavaliers captured their second consecutive outright ACC regular season title.

Marshall Bronfin | Cavalier Daily

Virginia athletics enjoyed a memorable semester. Following are 10 of the brightest moments from the past few months.

Nick Sulzer becomes three-time All-American

Senior Nick Sulzer capped his stellar wrestling career with a fifth-place finish at 165 pounds at the NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. In doing so, he became just the second three-time All-American in program history.

Sulzer entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed in his bracket, but an upset loss in the second round muddled the waters.

The upset did not faze the Cleveland, Ohio native, and he claimed four victories on the third day. With his victory over Northwestern senior Pierce Harger, Sulzer locked up All-American honors.

On the final day of the tournament, Sulzer lost to Ohio State redshirt freshmen Bo Jordan in the consolation semifinals but rebounded with a 12-4 major decision over North Carolina redshirt freshman Ethan Ramos to finish his tournament and career.

Baseball wins marathon against Marist

Then-No. 1 Virginia clashed with Marist on February 22. The two teams scored two runs apiece in the seventh inning. Another run would not cross the plate for 11 frames.

The Cavaliers required 18 innings to down the Red Foxes 5-4. Innings-wise, it was the longest game in team history.

Freshman Christian Lowry would serve as the game’s hero. He drove home sophomore Matt Thaiss with a single in the bottom of the 18th.

Virginia’s bullpen held Marist scoreless for the final 11 innings of the game. Juniors Josh Sborz and Kevin Doherty both threw five innings of two-hit ball. Freshman Bennett Sousa worked a clean 18th to earn his first career win.

Women’s swimming captures eighth straight ACC title

Cavalier fans have come to expect this level of excellence from the Virginia women’s swimming and diving team at the conference meet — the team has placed first every year since 2008.

But this season, the Cavaliers were forced to gut out their championship. With the majority of its top swimmers not fully rested as they tapered for NCAAs, Virginia entered the fourth and final day in second place, 22.5 points behind a North Carolina team that won the teams’ dual meet a month earlier.

However, a dominating final day allowed Virginia to coast to the program’s 13th ACC championship.

Leah Smith wins two national championships

The women’s swimming and diving program ranks among the best and most consistent of Virginia’s 25 varsity athletic programs. But until this season, the team had only fielded one national champion. That changed this season at the NCAA championships.

On the first day of competition, sophomore Leah Smith burst into the spotlight, taking the 500-yard freestyle national title. Her preliminary time of 4:30.37 broke the NCAA record in the event.

Two days later, Smith captured the 1,650-yard freestyle finals, earning her second national championship of the meet and propelling Virginia to a program best fifth-place finish.

Men’s tennis makes it nine straight ACC titles

The Virginia men’s tennis team clipped Wake Forest by a 4-2 final score in the ACC title match on Sunday, April 26 in Durham, North Carolina. The win gave the No. 5 Cavaliers nine conference crowns in nine seasons, a feat matched only by North Carolina from 1970-78.

Virginia’s wins in the tournament also pushed its ACC winning streak to 139 matches, the longest winning streak in any sport in conference history. The Cavaliers — NCAA champions for the first time in 2013 — have not lost in ACC play since April 23, 2006.

Women’s golf wins first ACC championship

Before 2015, no team from outside North Carolina had won the ACC Women’s Golf Championship. In mid-April, Virginia changed that. The No. 10 Cavaliers positively dominated the conference tourney, outshooting second-place No. 6 Duke by 26 strokes.

Senior Briana Mao finished second individually to lead the Cavaliers, matching star Duke freshman Leona Maguire through 54 holes before coming up short in a two-hole playoff. Junior Lauren Coughlin and sophomore Lauren Diaz-Yi joined Mao in the top five, while freshman Lyberty Anderson and junior Elizabeth Szokol placed seventh and 20th, respectively.

“It was unbelievable to watch,” Virginia coach Kim Lewellen said.

Sophomore throwers set program records

Sophomore throwers Christine Bohan, Filip Mihaljevic and Jordan Young all set program records at the Virginia Challenge, which the Cavaliers hosted in mid-April at Lannigan Field.

Bohan heaved the shot put 16.31 meters, topping her previous personal best by more than a foot.

Mihaljevic, meanwhile, bested his program record in the men’s shot put with 20.16-meter hurl. No Cavalier had broken 20 meters before Mihaljevic’s toss.

Lastly, Young established a new program record in the hammer throw at 69.53 meters.

Mihaljevic also later reset his program record in the discus with a 63.11-meter heave April 25 at the Penn Relays.

Softball’s Formby sisters no-hit Virginia Tech

The highlight of Virginia softball’s much-improved 2015 season came on April 9, when freshman twin sisters Alex and Andie Formby combined to throw a no-hitter in the second game of a doubleheader against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers dropped the first game 7-4, but the brilliant performances by the Formby sisters allowed Virginia to split with a 5-2 win.

Alex started the historic game and put in over three innings of work. She did walk seven batters and allowed two runs, but neither run was the result of a hit given up. Her sister came on in relief after the Hokies loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, and was able to force a double play and a fly ball to get out of the inning unscathed.

Andie finished the game with three strikeouts and four walks. The no-hitter was clinched as Formby retired the final six batters in order. The result was the first no-hitter for Virginia since 2009 and the program’s first ever combined no-hitter.

Men’s basketball wins ACC regular season title, posts 30 victories

The Virginia men’s basketball team followed up its impressive 2014 run with an even more dominating season in 2015, particularly in conference play. The team finished 30-4 and 16-2 in conference and earned a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Down the stretch, however, the Cavaliers struggled due to an injury to star junior Justin Anderson. The now-NBA prospect’s absence and subsequent slow return caused the Virginia offense to sputter, and it was unable to overcome an unfavorable seeding and matchup against Michigan State in the second round of the tournament.

Despite this early exit, the season was amazingly successful, and the major highlight of it came on March 2, when the Cavaliers clinched their second consecutive ACC regular season title. Virginia started off slow on the road against Syracuse, but used a late first-half rally to dominate the rest of the game and earn the 58-47 victory.

The championship marked the first time in Atlantic Coast Conference history that a team from outside the state of North Carolina claimed back-to-back outright regular season titles. Virginia now has seven regular season crowns in program history.

Rowing dominates ACC/Big 10 Challenge

The Virginia rowing team has consistently been among the nation’s elite programs, and 2015 is no different. The Cavaliers’ varsity eight boat is currently ranked third in the country and has won numerous high-profile races this spring.

Most notably, the Cavaliers dominated the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge in early April. Virginia won 10 races at the event, include six of the final seven races. Virginia defeated the nation’s top ranked team, Ohio State, in the Third Varsity Eight, Fourth Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Four and Third Varsity Four.

Virginia’s season is still going strong, and the team competes in the ACC championship May 15-16, and is seeking its sixth consecutive title. The Cavaliers have won 14 of the past 15 ACC championships.

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