Volleyball taken down by Louisville and Notre Dame in road games

The Cavaliers struggled offensively as they fell to the Cardinals and the Fighting Irish in straight sets over the weekend

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Louisville's strong defense held Virginia to its first negative hitting percentage on the season at -.040.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia went on the road to challenge Louisville and Notre Dame this weekend. The Cavaliers (9-14, 1-9 ACC) were defeated in both match-ups, knocked off by the Cardinals (15-5, 8-2 ACC) and the Fighting Irish (15-5, 8-2 ACC) in straight sets.

Virginia vs. Louisville

Virginia fell to Louisville in straight sets Friday at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena in Louisville, Ky. The final score was 25-18, 25-12 and 25-13 in favor of the Cardinals.

Louisville controlled the pace for most of the first set, but Virginia remained within striking distance early on. Louisville held a 19-16 lead and closed the set on a 6-2 run to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.

The Cavaliers fell behind early in the second set, as the Cardinals raced out to a 6-1 lead. However, Virginia answered with a 6-1 run of its own to knot the score at 7-7. Louisville regained control, however, and ran away with the set. The Cardinals won 15 of the next 17 points to take a commanding 22-9 lead, and they were able to take the second set with ease.

Facing elimination, Virginia took an early 4-1 lead in the third set. The Cavaliers maintained that three-point cushion at 6-3, but the Cardinals went on a 4-1 run to tie the set at 7-7. The Cardinals then went on another big run and took a 15-9 lead. Virginia cut the deficit to 15-11, but Louisville won 10 of the final 12 points to seal the sweep.

Louisville’s defense stifled Virginia, holding the Cavaliers to their first negative hitting percentage on the season at -.040. The Cardinals hit .250 percent in the win.

Junior outside hitter Sarah Billiard led the Cavaliers with nine kills, while junior libero Alex Spencer paced the team with 14 digs.

Virginia vs. Notre Dame

Virginia’s frustrations continued against the Fighting Irish as the Cavaliers were knocked off in straight sets once again with a final score of 25-21, 25-18 and 25-10 in favor of Notre Dame. 

The opening set was highly contested as each team went back and forth on scoring runs. 

After the Fighting Irish jumped to an early 10-6 lead, Virginia responded with a quick seven-point run to take the lead 13-10. Ball-handling and service errors by Notre Dame aided Virginia in its run in addition to a service ace by Spencer and a kill by junior outside hitter Christine Jarman. 

However, the Fighting Irish stayed in it as a four-point run tied the teams at 15 apiece. From there, the two squads were tit-for-tat and remained tied at 21-21. 

A second four-point run by Notre Dame would clinch the set 25-21 with a final two kills by sophomore right-side hitter Sydney Bent. 

The second set was close as well despite the 25-18 final. Neither team was able to create separation early and the greatest difference was just three points until the end of the set. 

At the midway point, only one point separated the teams as the Fighting Irish led 14-13. Freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis demonstrated her offensive ability with five kills in the first half of the set. 

Virginia eventually tied the set at 18-18 following kills by Jarman and Billiard. However, the Cavaliers appeared to lose momentum in the points that followed as Notre Dame tallied seven straight in a rally that won the set by a score of 25-18. 

It was a collection of contributions by sophomore setter Zoe Nunez who was up to serve as well as kills by Bent and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Wenzel that delivered the set to the Fighting Irish. 

The third and final set was dominated by Notre Dame, and it jumped to a 5-0 lead which quickly grew to 10-1. 

A short-lived offensive sputter by the Cavaliers narrowed the Notre Dame lead to 10-6 following two kills by Francis, but that would be as close as Virginia would get. 

Sophomore outside hitter Charley Niego was a key player in the set with five kills and her final point clinched the set and the match for the Fighting Irish, 25-10. 

Francis led offensively for the Cavaliers with eight kills. Graduate student middle blocker Kristin Baer for Notre Dame and Billiard for Virginia were among defensive leaders with five blocks apiece. 

Virginia returns to Memorial Gym Friday to take on Duke at 6:30 p.m. before facing Wake Forest Sunday at 2:30 p.m. 

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