Volleyball falls to Duke, rebounds with win against Wake Forest

The Cavaliers captured their first win since September against Wake Forest, snapping a nine-match losing streak

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After a tough October, Virginia finally added to the positive side of the win-loss column, securing their second ACC win. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After a nine-game skid, the Virginia volleyball team captured their first win since their bout against Virginia Tech Sept. 27. The Cavaliers (10-15, 2-10 ACC) fell to Duke (11-14, 4-8 ACC) in straight sets Friday night but rebounded Sunday with a four-set victory against Wake Forest (11-12, 1-11 ACC).

Nov. 1 vs. Duke

Virginia fell in straight sets to Duke 25-19, 25-17, 26-24, suffering its fourth straight loss without winning a set. 

The first set was defined by multiple runs from both teams. The Blue Devils ended up with a 21-18 lead and finished the set on a 4-1 run to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

The second set followed a similar pattern as the Cavaliers were down 14-6 midway through the set. Duke went on to have a 7-1 run and cruised to another set victory.

Virginia remained competitive early in the third set as it tried to stay alive in the match. The Blue Devils pulled away late in the set and looked like they were en route to a comfortable win, leading 19-14.

However, the Cavaliers rallied and cut the deficit to 23-21, and following a Duke score, Virginia saved all three match points to tie the set at 24-24. Unfortunately for Virginia fans, the Cavaliers were unable to capitalize on the momentum, and the Blue Devils won the next two points to secure the match.

The Blue Devils recorded a .367 hitting percentage, while limiting the Cavaliers to a .248 hitting percentage.

Senior right side Jelena Novakovic led the Cavaliers with 11 kills, while junior outside hitter Sarah Billiard tallied 10 kills. Junior libero Alex Spencer led all players in the match with 16 digs.

Nov. 3 vs. Wake Forest

The Cavaliers appeared determined Sunday as they faced off against the Demon Deacons in their second game of a four-game home stretch. Virginia was able to pick up the win in four sets — the team lost the first set 25-21 but won the next three 25-16, 25-19 and 25-11. 

The two teams went back and forth in the first set with Wake Forest opening with a 6-3 lead. The Cavaliers came roaring back however, tying the set up 13-13 at the midway point following a kill by freshman middle blocker Mattison Matthews. 

While both teams used scoring runs to gain momentum, Wake Forest closed out the set with a kill from freshman right-side hitter Peyton Suess and clinched the opening game, 25-21. 

The second set followed a different narrative as the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Virginia raced to a 15-8 advantage, and the Demon Deacons never recovered as the Cavaliers put the set away by a score of 25-16. 

The third set was more closely fought with Virginia gaining a 13-10 lead at the midway point. However, the lead quickly swelled to 17-11 with Novakovic stepping up to the plate, supplying a kill and back-to-back service aces. Virginia managed to maintain their lead and win the set on a Billiard kill, 25-19. 

The fourth and final set was the most lopsided of the match. After trailing 9-7 early, the Cavaliers used a 7-1 run to build a dominant lead. Wake Forest would only score three more points in the entire set as Virginia sealed the deal to win the set, 25-11, and the match. 

Offensive leaders for Virginia included Billiard and freshman outside hitter Jayna Francis with 11 kills each. Ciprian led the team defensively with seven blocks. 

Virginia next faces Clemson Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The match is set to start at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra.

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