Volleyball looks to sweep weekend slate at home
Virginia takes on Syracuse, Boston College
The Virginia volleyball team looked fired up at their final practice of the week Thursday morning. A big weekend looms ahead for the Cavaliers (5-19, 2-10 ACC), who after a win over Clemson have the chance to go on a winning streak in one of their last home stands of the season.
Fueling the Cavaliers’ momentum was their first true road win of the season against Clemson in this past Saturday. The team rallied back from an opening set loss to dominate the Tigers en route to a big team win.
“It was a great win because of all the work we’ve put in towards the game in practice, it finally became evident in that game,” senior outside hitter Jasmine Burton said.
Coach Dennis Hohenshelt was thankful for the road win after the long trek the team endured.
“A road win like that is big because it’s a long bus ride back. It builds confidence and makes the kids feel good about what they’re doing. It’s not only good for that bus ride, but for everything leading up to training this week,” Hohenshelt said.
Though the team hadn’t had practice coming off of a win in a few weeks, Burton and Hohenshelt said the mentality of the team was the same: competitive.
“We know that it’s only one win and we can put together so much more, so we’re always just trying to get more wins,” Burton said.
In the midst of the Cavaliers’ victory Saturday, Burton reached a pivotal milestone in her collegiate volleyball career: her 1,000th kill. The senior fought through a big injury last season to come back and play hard her senior year, and felt very satisfied when reflecting on her big night.
“It was very exciting because a lot of girls in my freshman class had been getting it and I’m the last one,” Burton said. “It meant a lot to me because we’ve been playing together for so long.”
As a leader to the underclassmen this year, Burton said one of the most important lessons she learned from her career at Virginia was to get out of her comfort zone and become a more versatile player.
Coach Hohenshelt had high praise for Burton, saying she will go down as one of the best attackers to ever play at Virginia.
“If she wasn’t hurt for the first half of last season, she probably would have had 1,000 kills last season,” Hohenshelt said. “I like her mentality of ‘feed me the ball’ because she just always wants to help the team. To be able to put people up on the record board in the last five years says a lot about our team.”
Burton has been a huge part of the Cavaliers’ offensive improvement over the last few weeks, and Hohenshelt looks to translate her success against Clemson this weekend.
“We tried to get Jasmine the ball a little more last week, and it worked,” Hohenshelt said. “She needs to work on blocking shots a little better, but she has been playing at a very high level on offense and in her serving. We’re going to ride her a little more and get other people involved in sporadic spurts when we need to.”
Looking to this weekend, the Cavaliers play two opponents with losing records and will look to capitalize on a prime opportunity for wins. Virginia takes on Syracuse Friday and Boston College Sunday, both at Memorial Gymnasium. The Golden Eagles (7-16, 2-11 ACC) took down the Orange (6-17, 5-8 ACC) at home Wednesday and are riding a two game win streak, while Syracuse enters in a slump where they have won only one of their six last games.
“We have to stop the teams’ middles, get in front of their hitters and just run different options to confuse their blockers to set up different hitters,” Burton said.
Hohenshelt believes the key to beating these two teams is to rise above the teams’ level of play.
“Syracuse and Boston College are very similar to us,” Hohenshelt said. “So we have to raise the bar in these matches and stay at a high level rather than just being on a roller coaster.”
The Cavaliers hope to seize a prime opportunity to begin a winning streak this weekend against two very evenly-matched opponents. First serve against Syracuse is Friday, 7 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium.