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Volleyball leaves Miami without a win after several competitive matches

Virginia fell to Miami 0-3 in both match-ups this past Saturday and Sunday

<p>Senior outside hitter Sarah Billiard reached the milestone of 1000 career kills in the third match on Sunday against Miami.</p>

Senior outside hitter Sarah Billiard reached the milestone of 1000 career kills in the third match on Sunday against Miami.

Heading into their matches of the week, the Virginia volleyball team was initially slated to take on Syracuse, however, the Orange decided not to take the trip to Miami. Instead, the Cavaliers (2-12, 0-11 ACC) matched up twice against Miami – one match counting towards conference play and the other labeled as non-conference play.

In the face of tough losses to the Hurricanes (7-4, 6-4 ACC), Virginia was able to celebrate a different kind of victory with senior outside hitter Sarah Billiard reaching 1,000 career kills in the third match on Sunday.

Saturday, Virginia vs. Miami

The Cavaliers lost in a sweep to Miami at the Knight Sports Complex Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes won 25-17, 25-15 and 25-15.

Despite the final scoreline, the first match was rather close in the early going. While the Hurricanes took an early lead, several Miami serving errors allowed the Cavaliers back in the game. Senior outside hitter Christine Jarman delivered a huge kill late in the match to keep Virginia alive. However, it was not enough to stop Miami’s senior outside hitter Janet Kalaniuvalu.

Kalaniuvalu had a spectacular showing that eventually allowed the Hurricanes to clinch the first set. She kept the Cavaliers on their toes with her cross-court kills and finished the night with 11 kills and a .733 kill percentage.

The second match was full of errors from both teams. Again, Miami took an early lead, but a combination of Virginia grit and miscommunication among the Hurricanes gave the Cavaliers a fighting chance. Ultimately, hitting and serving errors were the downfall of Virginia. The Cavaliers had a .051 hitting percentage and 10 service errors.

Virginia kept the third match close early on as Billiard provided several kills that kept momentum going for the Cavaliers. As the match progressed, Billiard posted another massive kill that brought Virginia within two points of Miami. Billiard ended the evening with eight kills in total.

Despite narrowing the score margin, mistakes by Virginia resulted in the Miami lead widening. An opportunity appeared to open when senior setter Megan Wilson had a major block against Miami’s 6’6” senior outside hitter Elizaveta Lukianova that brought the score to 15-21 in favor of the Hurricanes. 

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the block was not enough of a momentum shift. Lukianova came back fighting, and managed to deliver the final kill of the game. She finished the set with 15 kills and a .484 kill percentage.

Sunday, Virginia vs. Miami

Coming into the second game, Lukianova was still hot from the night before. She was able to help Miami pull away from the Cavaliers with a huge hit that took the Hurricanes to 10 points. 

While Virginia trailed early, sophomore outside hitter Grace Turner fought to keep the Cavaliers in the game. She had both a kill and block that kept the game close. Overall, Turner had a productive day, finishing with eight kills and four blocks. 

However, Lukianova and the Hurricanes could not be stopped — eventually taking the match 25-14.

Both teams fought hard in the closely contested second match. Senior libero Alex Spencer had an exceptional game by being able to dig hard hits from Lukianova, which rendered her nearly useless in the second set. Spencer had a total of 12 digs.

Miami’s redshirt freshman Angela Grieve proved to be a boost for the Hurricanes. She was dominant at the serving line, ending the night with six aces. Grieve also racked up 14 kills that led to Miami winning the second match 25-19.

The third set was the most competitive of the weekend. Turner had several kills early in the match that allowed the Cavaliers to keep it close. Wilson endured the long rallies and delivered sets that allowed her hitters to capitalize as she collected 22 assists in total. 

Although the Cavaliers pulled ahead, Lukianova made sure things stayed close by helping win multiple points that cut into the Virginia lead. Grieve ended the match with an ace, giving Miami the win, 29-27.

Next up, Virginia will take on Florida State on March 19 back in Memorial Gym. The team aims to get their season back on track with a win against the Seminoles.