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Zwarich shatters kills mark in marathon Cav win

Led by a record-breaking performance from senior middle blocker Deanna Zwarich, the Cavalier women's volleyball team ended a four-match losing streak by squeezing out a three-hour 3-2 win against Duke.

The Cavs (5-6, 1-0 ACC) had to rally to take the last two games after the Blue Devils (9-4, 0-1) grabbed a 2-1 lead.

"We started out well and then relaxed a little bit in the second and third games," Zwarich said. "But then for the first time this season we actually picked it back up and remembered how to win a match."

The Cavaliers were coming off a disappointing last place showing at the 2000 Bank of Fayetteville Invitational, in which they dropped all three tournament matches to Arkansas, No. 23 Michigan and Houston. They needed this ACC opener against Duke to rally back from a dissatisfying week of volleyball.

"We had the hardest preseason schedule out of any ACC team and so I didn't think our record of 4-6 [entering last night's match] was indicative of the type of record we would have in the ACCs," Virginia coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton said. "It was a big game for us, because we had to turn some stuff around, but I think that we had confidence in our skills all along and knew we could get the job done."

Zwarich, as always, played a central role in the victory, slamming 40 kills, nine more than Greta Jansson's 1991 single-match record. The Kansas native had never before had more than 24 kills, but she compiled a .370 hitting percentage on a splendid night in which she also added 10 digs and five blocks.

Two weeks ago, Zwarich became just the sixth Cavalier to reach the 1,000 kill plateau. She also captained the team through its rocky opening schedule, earning All-Tournament honors at the Jefferson Cup, the Xavier Invitational and the Bank of Fayetteville Invitational.

Last night, with the score tied at one game apiece, the Blue Devils fought back from an 11-3 deficit in the third game with a 12-2 run to snatch game three, 15-13.

Facing elimination in the fourth game, the Cavaliers seized control of the match. Virginia won not only the fourth game, 15-12, but more importantly the momentum of the match.

The fifth and deciding game of the competition - generally referred to as the rally game because a point is scored on each play - came down to the wire. Outside hitters Katie Jones and Whitney Ashcraft came up with several key digs to pull out the victory.

"That was our first rally game of the season, but we had practiced them a lot," Zwarich said. "We are a really good sideout team, so it worked to our advantage in the fifth game and we were able to come away with the win."

To add to the amazing night, Cavalier utility player Jenny Harmon returned for her first match back after being sidelined by appendicitis. The redshirt junior set career highs with 14 kills - including the game-winner - and 13 digs.

"I wasn't too worried about being out of shape because I have been training hard during my rehab," Harmon said. "Going back into a game as big as the ACCs is always hard, so I was just looking to get in and get focused"

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