Volleyball unable to snap losing streak, falling to N.C. State and North Carolina

The Cavaliers’ losing streak is extended to six games as Virginia nears the end of the first-half of ACC play

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Sophomore middle blocker Milla Ciprian led Virginia with 16 kills against NC State and totaled 22 kills over the two matches. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

This past weekend, Virginia hosted both N.C. State (8-11, 3-4 ACC) and North Carolina (8-10, 5-3 ACC) at Memorial Gymnasium. Friday night, the Cavaliers (9-12, 1-7 ACC) fell to N.C. State in four sets and two days later fell to North Carolina in straight sets.

Virginia vs. N.C. State

The final score from the match against the Wolfpack was 25-21, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-18. 

N.C. State went on a 5-0 run early in the first to break a 4-4 tie and take a solid lead. Virginia remained within striking distance for much of the set and cut the deficit to one at 21-20. However, the Wolfpack closed the set on a 4-1 run to take an early 1-0 lead in the match. The Cavaliers recorded the higher hitting percentage in the first set, but the Wolfpack was able to win the key points at the end of the set.

In the second set, Virginia jumped out to an 8-4 lead but N.C. State eventually rallied and tied it at 11-11. The Wolfpack then won five consecutive points to open up a five-point lead, and continued to dominate the set at 21-16. Then Cavaliers cut N.C. State’s lead to 22-20, but the Wolfpack won three of the final four points to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

N.C. State started out the third set strong with a 5-1 lead, but Virginia went on a 5-0 run to take the lead. The two sides went back and forth, before the Cavaliers took advantage with a 21-17 lead. Although N.C. State tied the match at 22-22, a kill from freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis and two consecutive aces from sophomore middle blocker Milla Ciprian sealed the victory for Virginia.

N.C. State took an early lead in the fourth set and maintained that lead the rest of the way. With the score being 16-12, the Wolfpack went on a 4-0 run to take an eight point lead and cruised to  their third conference victory. 

Ciprian led all players in the match with 16 kills, while junior outside hitter Sarah Billiard and senior right side hitter Jelena Novakovic also recorded double-digit kills. Junior libero Alex Spencer recorded a match-high 17 digs.

Virginia vs. North Carolina

The Cavaliers were unable to snap their losing streak Sunday against North Carolina as they were defeated in straight sets. The defeat was particularly tough for Virginia as each of the three narrowly fought sets could have gone either team’s way.

Virginia came out strong in the opening set, jumping out to an 8-4 lead. The Cavaliers then managed to build onto their lead, reaching 17-10 due to key contributions from a number of players. 

Novakovic dominated early for Virginia with two kills and back to back aces in the set as the team was also aided by a handful of attack errors by the Tar Heels. 

However, four straight points by North Carolina later in the set with senior libero Mia Fradenburg serving allowed eventually led to the teams being tied up at 21 a piece. 

Though the Cavaliers managed to take back the lead 24-23, three straight kills by senior outside hitter Skylar Wine put away the set in favor of the Tar Heels, 26-24. 

Unlike the start of the first set, North Carolina found their footing early in the second set as they jumped out to a 10-6 lead. Following two Tar Heel errors and a kill by Francis, Virginia managed to narrow the lead to 10-9. 

However, this was the closest the Cavaliers got to the Tar Heels, as a combination effort by junior middle blocker Aristea Tontai and Wine, among others, put the set out of reach as North Carolina went up 24-17 late in the set. 

A kill by Tar Heel sophomore outside hitter Destiney Cox followed by a Novakovic service error broke the set in favor of the Tar Heels 25-19. 

The third and final set was tight from the start as the two teams traded points early on. A four point run by North Carolina allowed the Tar Heels to gain some separation, but the Cavaliers remained in contention for the set. 

Although a late kill by Francis brought Virginia within striking distance at 22-20, the Tar Heels still managed to win the final set by a score of 25-22.  

Francis led Virginia in kills with 10 while Wine led North Carolina with 13 of her own. Ciprian led defensively with three blocks.

Friday, Virginia looks to rebound from their weekend losses as the Cavaliers head to Louisville. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on ACC Network Extra. 

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