Volleyball falls to No. 4 Pittsburgh, defeats Virginia Tech

The Cavaliers split their matches this week, losing to Pittsburgh in straight sets but rebounding with a four-set victory over Virginia Tech

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Freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis led Virginia with 10 kills against Pittsburgh.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia just couldn’t keep up as No. 4 Pittsburgh recorded a sweep Wednesday night at Memorial Gymnasium to open ACC play. The Panthers (12-1, 1-0 ACC) took three straight sets, winning 25-11, 25-17 and 25-21. 

The Cavaliers (9-6, 1-1 ACC) had their winning streak snapped following three straight wins last week in the Jefferson Cup. Pittsburgh dominated the first two sets and took control late in the third to secure the win.

Pittsburgh used scoring run in the first set to build a quick 10-4 advantage with back-to-back service aces by senior outside hitter Stephanie Williams. Following a timeout, the Panthers grew to a 17-7 advantage and continued momentum through the rest of the set.

The Panthers never looked back, winning the opening set 25-11. 

Pittsburgh came out white-hot for the second set, establishing a 4-0 lead right away. Attack and service errors hurt the Cavaliers early in the set as Pittsburgh built-up their set lead to 20-10. 

Virginia appeared to be mounting a comeback in the set however, scoring six straight points to make the score 21-16. Key contributors on this scoring run included freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis with two kills and junior setter Megan Wilson with four assists. 

However, two errors by the Cavaliers dashed their chances of completing the comeback. A kill by senior outside hitter Alix Dreier would clinch the second set for Pittsburgh by a score of 25-17. 

The third set was tightly contested as the teams traded points and were tied at 13 apiece at the halfway mark. The Panthers established a 22-17 lead and were at match point after kills by sophomore middle blocker Sabrina Starks and junior middle back Chinaza Ndee. Following a kill by Francis, Pittsburgh won the set and the match on a Cavalier attack error, 25-21. 

Pittsburgh recorded a hitting percentage of .409 and held Virginia to just .184. The Panthers additionally had 10 aces compared to just two for the Cavaliers. 

For Virginia, Francis led in kills with 10 closely followed by senior right-side hitter Jelena Novakovic with eight. Williams and junior outside hitter Kayla Lund led Pittsburgh in kills with 12 and 11, respectively. 

In front of a packed house at Memorial Gymnasium Friday, Virginia secured an important win, defeating rival Virginia Tech in four sets.

Both teams traded points to open the match, but Virginia Tech (7-7, 0-1 ACC) strung a few points together and took an early 10-7 lead. Neither team could build up a significant lead and the score was tight for the remainder of the set with both teams failing to convert set points. At 26-26, Virginia took advantage of an attack error from Virginia Tech and closed the set out with an ace from junior outside hitter Christine Jarman.

Virginia jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the second set, but Virginia Tech went on an 8-3 run to take a 14-12 lead. The two teams went back and forth with the Hokies maintaining a slight lead. Virginia cut the deficit to 24-23 late, but the Cavaliers couldn’t complete the comeback, losing the set 23-25.

Virginia dominated the third set as it quickly turned a 4-4 tie into a 13-5 lead. The Hokies never got closer than six points, and the Cavaliers cruised to a 25-13 set victory — just one set from winning the match.

Virginia Tech had an early 9-6 lead in the fourth set, but yet another Virginia run gave the Cavaliers a 14-12 lead. Virginia Tech tied the set at 15-15 and the two teams traded points until the Cavaliers held a slim 19-18 advantage. Virginia won four straight points to all but seal the win and Novakovic closed out the set and the match with a kill.

It was an all-around effort for the Cavaliers, as they had four players record double-digit kills. 

Virginia will travel to Florida next weekend for road games against Florida State and Miami. The Cavaliers will face the Seminoles Friday night and the Hurricanes Sunday afternoon.

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