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Volleyball travels to Virginia Tech Wednesday

Team seeks to answer coach's criticism, halt two-game skid

Following a weekend that coach Dennis Hohenshelt described as “embarrassing,” the Virginia volleyball team is hoping to bounce back against rival Virginia Tech Wednesday. The Cavaliers were swept twice last weekend, spurring Hohenshelt to challenge them to improve their effort and elevate their play.

Virginia (10-10, 3-5 ACC) suffered a pair of 3-0 defeats at home to No. 14 North Carolina, which is tied for first place in the ACC, and NC State. The Cavaliers fell to the Tar Heels (18-1, 7-1 ACC) Saturday, 25-12, 26-24 and 25-19. After being blown away in the first set, they responded well in the second. Virginia secured a 24-23 lead to earn a set point opportunity, but freshman setter and defensive specialist Karlie Suber served the ball into the net and North Carolina won the next two points to take a two-set lead. In the third set, the Cavaliers kept it close at first — down 13-12 midway through — but the Tar Heels eventually ran away with it.

Virginia had a tough time against NC State (15-5, 6-2 ACC) Sunday as well, falling 25-21, 25-17 and 25-14. The Cavaliers never led in any set, and allowed four Wolfpack runs of at least four consecutive points at various times in the match. Virginia’s hitting percentage was a mere .094, compared to NC State’s .269. Though the Cavaliers faced admirable opponents, Hohenshelt believes the losses were due in part to his team’s lack of effort.

Despite Hohenshelt’s surfeit of criticism toward his team, he praised senior libero Emily Rottman’s play, who ranks fifth in the conference in digs per set. As the team’s only senior, she will be looked upon to guide the Cavaliers back on track. Virginia is a very young team, comprised of 12 underclassmen out of its 18 total players. Junior outside hitter Tori Janowski — who is fifth in the ACC in kills per set and fourth in service aces per set — will also be counted upon for consistent performance.

Virginia Tech (17-5, 5-3 ACC) poses another challenge for Virginia. The Hokies swept NC State 3-0 and lost a very close match to North Carolina 3-2 in their last two games. Both games were in Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech is 9-2 overall this season. Meanwhile, Virginia sports a 2-2 record in road ACC games.

Nor will Virginia be helped by any offensive weaknesses from the Hokies. As a team, Virginia Tech tops the conference in hitting percentage, while Virginia sits third-to-last in opponent hitting percentage. The Hokies also boast individual conference leaders in hitting percentage, assists per set and service aces per set.

Virginia Tech is sixth in the ACC, two games up on Virginia, which is tied for ninth. In a tightly contested conference, a win would be huge for either team as they approach the halfway point of conference play.

Wednesday’s game will be played at Virginia Tech’s Cassell Coliseum at 7 p.m.

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