Virginia volleyball seeks to end 11-game skid
Cavaliers set to host Georgia Tech and Clemson over the weekend
It’s no secret that it’s been as rough season for the Virginia volleyball team thus far. The team has lost 11 games in a row en route to a 3-13 start to their season, and have been searching for a way to salvage their season as ACC play opened up. Though the results have not been there, the team looked hopeful and loose going into their third weekend of conference matches, not letting the losing streak deter them from their goals.
“What I have asked of each member of my team this week is to do one thing better,” head coach Dennis Hohenshelt said. “If 18 girls do one thing better each, we will be in much better shape. We’re always pointing out the positives that we’re doing, and when we point out the negatives, we always discuss how to correct them. We’ve just been looking at what we can build on.”
Senior outside hitter Haley Kole described how the team’s humility has kept it loose amid the losing streak.
“We just realized that we have nothing to lose,” Kole said. “We only have three wins, so the best we can do is keep trying to improve and build on what we have.”
While the Cavaliers have at times not played to their full potential, losing many close matches, their competition up to this point has been very tough. Hohenshelt pointed out that Washington State, who swept Virginia in their final tournament, is now ranked No. 10 in the country after beating premier teams, and past opponent Kentucky knocked off No. 5 Florida recently.
“We knew we were going to schedule good teams, and that’s part of us getting better,” Hohenshelt said. “It proved to be even tougher than we thought, but we’re hoping it has prepared the girls for the good teams ahead.”
As expected, the growing pains of a youthful team has come to the forefront of the Cavaliers’ issues. The six freshman are still acclimating to college play, and it has been tough for Virginia to combat some of the inexperience shown on the court.
“It’s been good and it’s been bad at times, but it feels like we learn something new every time,” Hohenshelt said. “We calculated before last weekend that we were eleven missed points away from being 7-7 and 2-0 in the conference, and youth definitely plays a role in that. Going forward, we hope experience will take over and we’ll be able to get those points.”
The Cavaliers are at a pivotal point in their season, where time is running out to go on a big run in their conference to salvage their season. However, the team is confident they can turn it around with a big weekend.
“We definitely just need to stay positive,” Kole said. “This weekend is a huge opportunity for us to get one or two wins and get the confidence we need to keep pushing. This is one of the best weeks of practice we’ve had, so we just need to keep building on that. There’s still 13 wins out there for us.”
Of course, before they get 13 wins, a win this weekend would clearly be a big relief for the team. Coach Hohenshelt is determined to get two by the end of the weekend.
“I want to win on Friday to get the ball rolling,” Hohenshelt said. “These kids have been pushing the boulder up the hill and feel that we need one more push to really get it going.”
The team continues its ACC slate with home matches against Georgia Tech (12-5, 3-2 ACC) Friday night and Clemson (5-12, 0-5 ACC) Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a win Wednesday over the Tigers, while Clemson, like Virginia, is still looking for its first conference win. The Cavaliers will look to grind out a win in a tough matchup with the Georgia Tech before facing Clemson in a very winnable game.
If each member of the Cavalier volleyball team takes Hosenshelt’s challenge to heart and improves on one aspect of their games this weekend, the Cavaliers have a chance to go on a nice winning streak going in front of their home crowd. First serve against Georgia Tech is at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Gym.