Volleyball sweeps competition in Jefferson Cup

Virginia dropped just two sets and cruised past Lehigh, Elon and UNC Greensboro

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Junior outside hitter Sarah Billiard earned Jefferson Cup MVP honors after racking up a combined 38 kills in the tournament and recording a career high .588 hitting percentage against UNC Greensboro.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia volleyball hosted the Jefferson Cup over the weekend and won the tournament after winning all three games. The Cavaliers (8-5, 0-0 ACC) defeated Lehigh Friday and followed that with wins over Elon and UNC Greensboro Saturday.

Game 1: Lehigh

Virginia opened the tournament with a straight-set victory over Lehigh (7-7, 0-0 Patriot League) at Memorial Gymnasium Friday. Freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis paced the Cavaliers with 14 kills, while junior outside hitter Sarah Billiard added 10 of her own. Senior libero Kelsey Miller led all players in the match with 18 digs.

The Cavaliers set a steady pace in the first set and scored a quick four points that led to an early 9-2 advantage. The Mountain Hawks never cut the deficit to fewer than six points as Virginia took the opening frame by a score of 25-14.

The second set was more competitive, and with the score knotted at 6-6, Virginia went on a 6-1 run to take a 12-7 lead and another set win, this time winning 25-17.

Lehigh took a 5-3 lead to start the third set, but Virginia went on a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead. The Cavaliers maintained a comfortable lead for the remainder of the set, and Billiard closed the match with two kills to produce a 25-18 final set.

Game 2: Elon

Virginia’s second match of the tournament was a narrow five-set victory over Elon (5-8, 0-0 CAA) Saturday morning. It was the first time the Cavaliers have played a full five-set match this season. 

The first two sets were tightly contested, as the winners of each set only won by a margin of two points. Billiard delivered a kill to secure the first set for Virginia, 25-23, before the Phoenix responded with a 26-24 win in the second set.

Virginia bounced back by kicking off the third set with a 9-3 run that helped the Cavaliers win the third set 25-19.

In a back-and-forth fourth set, Elon held a 22-21 lead late against the surging Cavaliers. The Phoenix won three of the final four points to close out the set and force a decisive fifth set.

Virginia played with a sense of urgency in the shortened fifth set. The Cavaliers scored the first five points and turned the drive into an insurmountable 10-1 lead. Virginia continued to add pressure and won the set by a score of 15-4.

Game 3: UNC Greensboro

Virginia closed out the tournament with a dominant victory over UNC Greensboro (6-8, 0-0 SoCon) Saturday night. Billiard led the Cavaliers with 10 kills, while Novakovic contributed nine.

Virginia used 5-1 and 5-0 runs in the first set to win comfortably, 25-13. The Spartans played the second set closer, but an 8-0 run by the Cavaliers helped Virginia steal the set by a score of 25-18.

The two teams traded points and runs in the third set, with UNC Greensboro nearly tying the game at 22-21 after an 8-1 Virginia run. However, the Cavaliers won three consecutive points to close out the weekend with another win. 

Billiard was named MVP of the tournament and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by freshman middle blocker Mattison Matthews and junior setter Megan Wilson.

After picking up three wins this weekend, Virginia has already matched its season win total from last season with eight total victories.

The Cavaliers will begin ACC play against No. 6 Pittsburgh Wednesday at Memorial Gymnasium. The match is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

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