Women’s Volleyball finds late success in Jefferson Cup tournament

Cavaliers go 1-2 in second-to-last non-conference tournament

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Leading the Cavaliers in kills was freshman outside hitter Sarah Billiard — who put forward an impressive 18 kills.

Emma Lewis | Cavalier Daily

In similar fashion to last week at the Appalachian State Invitational, the Virginia volleyball team (4-5) did not find much success in their early matches against VCU (9-2) and Howard (2-8), before ultimately coming up with a win by sweeping Ohio, 3-0. After a disappointing 1-2 showing last weekend, the Cavaliers looked to find the momentum they needed to find as ACC play looms closer. 

Virginia began the Jefferson Cup with high expectations against in-state foe VCU. Well-rested and fresh off a win from Appalachian State, Virginia was still unable to contend with a VCU squad that outperformed them at every turn. Being out-hit and out-blocked at every turn, Virginia was could not keep pace with the Rams, and began their weekend being swept 3-0. 

“They served us tough. I felt like we were in a pretty good rhythm with our serve/receive but they were able to get a few easy points with service pressure,” Coach Aaron Smith said. “We found ourselves up a few points and all of a sudden, we shank two balls and make a couple of hitting errors and we are down two points. We were just streaky tonight.” 

Hoping to recover from a tough loss, the Cavaliers then faced off against what would appear to be an easier opponent — the Howard Bison. While able to put forward some impressive numbers — such as freshman outside hitter Alex Spencer recording a double double with 12 kills and 17 digs — the Cavaliers were unable to make key plays that could have helped them win sets vital to victory. 

Things were looking good for the Cavaliers in the first set against Howard. Unable to maintain their sizeable 5-1 lead and falling short in holding Howard in a 24-24 tie in the first set, things quickly devolved for the young Virginia team, struggling to hold back an aggressive and effective Bison offense — allowing a 12-2 run that assured a victory in the third and later fourth and final set for Howard. 

Later that day, Virginia would have their third and final match of the weekend in a vital contest against the Ohio Bobcats. Again having players put up impressive numbers, but this time converting in key situations — the Cavaliers were able to put forward a decisive 3-0 win over the Bobcats. 

Leading the Cavaliers in kills was freshman outside hitter Sarah Billiard — who put forward an impressive 18 kills. Also of note was sophomore defensive specialist Jane Horner who helped Virginia on offense and defense with 14 digs and three aces. 

“Ultimately, going 1-2 is not the goal. We know we have to approach each practice ready to get better. When we have eight or nine people step up and play their roles like they are supposed to it is great, but we need to make sure we are getting better and doing that every night” Smith said.

The Cavaliers will have a another opportunity to show the progress they have made as a team as they travel to Orlando, Fla. to compete in their last non-conference tournament of the year. They face off against UCF on Friday at 7 p.m. 

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