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Volleyball falls short in high energy matches against No. 22 Pittsburgh and No. 18 Georgia Tech

Virginia, now 0-10 in the ACC, lost 3-1 against the Panthers and 3-0 against the Yellow Jackets, as they continue to struggle in conference play

<p>Senior libero Alex Spencer was one of Virginia's leaders in digs against Georgia Tech with 11.</p>

Senior libero Alex Spencer was one of Virginia's leaders in digs against Georgia Tech with 11.

Following two hard-fought matches, Virginia was unable to overcome No. 22 Pittsburgh (7-4, 6-4 ACC) or No. 18 Georgia Tech (8-2, 8-2 ACC) on the road at Fitzgerald Field House this past weekend. The Cavaliers (2-10, 0-10 in ACC) were only able to win one set against the Panthers.

Virginia vs. Pittsburgh

The first set was close from the beginning. Virginia had early success by capitalizing off of Pittsburgh’s lack of middle court coverage. Late game mistakes including getting called for in the net and several shanks allowed the Panthers to get back in the game. Pittsburgh went on to win the set 25-20.

Senior outside hitter Christine Jarman dominated the second set for the Cavaliers. Jarman had a powerful kill to put Virginia at 20 points. Jarman continued to set the tone for the rest of the match, ending the night with eight kills.

Despite trailing, Pittsburgh fought back late in the second set. Senior right side hitter Chinaza Ndee was responsible for four points and a momentum shift that nearly cost the Cavaliers the set. Ndee’s efforts were a huge factor for the Panthers all night as she ended the match with 14 kills and two blocks.

In spite of the late flurry, Virginia was able to hang on to win the set, 25-22.

Pittsburgh took an early lead in the third set after several huge kills from junior outside hitter Jordan Lockwood. However, several miss-hits from the Panthers let Virginia back in the game.  

The Panthers made a change in their strategy late in the set, going from powerful kills to taking advantage of Virginia’s exposed middle court. The tactic switch proved to be successful as Pittsburgh took the third set 25-23.

The fourth set was close in the early going, but the Panthers became dominant as it went on. Pittsburgh relied heavily on Ndee, both for kills and blocks. Lockwood also scored big points for the Panthers in the final set and finished the game with eight kills and two blocks. 

The game was close until sophomore libero Ashley Browske went on a serving run for Pittsburgh that led to them winning the set and locking up the match. 

Virginia vs. Georgia Tech

Virginia faced a similar demise in its matchup against Georgia Tech.

The first set of the match was extremely hard-fought. Senior outside hitter Sarah Billiard had a big kill early to keep things close. Following a number of impressive volleys by the Yellow Jackets, the team managed to narrowly clinch the set, 29-27.

The second set was not nearly as close as the opening one. The Cavaliers’ struggle with miscommunication proved to be key in leading to their falling behind quickly. Additionally, junior outside hitter Mariana Brambilla gave the Yellow Jackets a huge boost from the back row. 

Brambilla finished the night with an impressive stat line that included 21 kills. Georgia Tech won the set by a lopsided 25-12 margin.

The third set was more competitive. Jarman had a kill that kept the Cavaliers alive in the set. Later on, Virginia managed to make a run to keep the scoreline close with a huge set by Billard bringing energy to the team. 

Billard finished the night with nine kills and one block assist. However, the Cavalier’s efforts fell short and Georgia Tech clinched the set 25-18 to win the match.

Despite the tough losses this weekend, Virginia has time to make a comeback in the ACC. The Cavaliers take the court again next Saturday against Syracuse.