Following a four-game homestand, the Virginia volleyball team travelled south this past weekend for its first road games of October. The Cavaliers faced N.C. State Friday night and suffered a tough loss before producing a crushing victory over North Carolina Sunday.
Virginia (6-12, 2-6 ACC) started off its weekend with a tough test against N.C. State (9-9, 3-5 ACC) on the road at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.
Despite being underdogs, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead against the Wolfpack, taking the first set, 25-19. The Cavaliers took advantage of an 8-0 run that propelled their lead to six — a lead they never gave up. Virginia held N.C. State to .025 hitting efficiency, forcing 10 errors and limiting the Wolfpack to their lowest kill total of any set in the game.
While they were able to win the first set, the Cavaliers were overwhelmed in the following three, as the Wolfpack averaged a .329 hitting percentage and produced 50 more kills. Although Virginia fought valiantly, N.C. State used runs of 6-0, 4-0 and 11-2, respectively, to take command of each set.
Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Billiard and junior right-side hitter Jelena Novakovic contributed 12 kills each, while freshman outside hitter Grace Turner produced her second double-double in three matches — 10 kills and 16 digs.
Virginia didn’t let the N.C. State loss keep it down, however, as the Cavaliers delivered one of their most impressive performances of the season with a straight-set victory over North Carolina (5-12, 1-7 ACC).
The Cavaliers used a trio of runs — 4-0, 4-0 and 5-0 — to win the first set, securing the early advantage through a block by junior middle blocker Chino Anukwuem, who had her best game since ACC conference play began.
Billiard — with 12 total kills in the game — stepped up in the second set with seven kills, leading the Cavaliers’ highly efficient offense and fueling a dominant 25-12 set win.
With their backs against the walls, the Tar Heels gave Virginia its biggest challenge of the day in the third set, racing out to a 14-7 lead. Virginia fought back, however, reeling off an 11-2 run, eventually winning the set, 25-22, and ending the game in exciting fashion.
With players like junior setter Jennifer Wineholt — with three service aces and four digs — and sophomore outside hitter Christine Jarman — with six kills and 10 digs — stepping up, Virginia secured its second ACC victory with a balanced team performance.
Virginia will next face No. 22 Louisville (15-4, 8-0 ACC) and Notre Dame (11-7, 5-3 ACC) at home in its return to Memorial Gymnasium.