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Volleyball’s Senior Day celebrations stifled by 12th straight loss

The Cavaliers fall at home to Boston College in four sets, Syracuse in three

<p>Three players were honored in front of a 184-person crowd on Senior Day at Memorial Gymnasium.</p>

Three players were honored in front of a 184-person crowd on Senior Day at Memorial Gymnasium.

Virginia began the weekend with a home match against Boston College Friday night in Memorial Gym. The Cavaliers (8-16, 1-13 ACC) took the first set, but were overpowered by the Eagles in the remaining three (14-14, 4-10). Days later on Sunday afternoon, Virginia hosted Syracuse for the team’s senior day. Unfortunately, the Orange (16-10, 5-9 ACC) crushed it in front of the Cavaliers’ home crowd — defeating Virginia in straight sets.

Loss vs. Boston College

The Cavaliers came out strong, winning the first five points of the first set thanks to three straight blocks. Virginia kept the momentum throughout the set, going up by as many as nine before the Eagles managed to pull it together and make the final score a mere 25-17 Virginia win. Boston College hit only .139 due to a strong performance by the Cavalier frontline, led by graduate middle blocker Alana Walker at the net. Nonetheless, this was the only set Virginia would win all weekend.

In the second set, neither team could quite put the other to bed. The lead changed hands five times and there were 14 separate ties throughout the set. Both teams also registered very low hit percentages — Boston College hit .104, Virginia hit a putrid .038 — indicating good defense and a lack of rhythm from the outside hitters on both sides. A service error from the Eagles tied the set at 24, but Boston College recovered well and won the set 26-24 on back-to-back kills by graduate outside hitter Clare Naughton. 

Smelling blood in the water, the Eagles came out and obliterated Virginia in the third set. Boston College used two separate 5-0 runs to jump out to an initial 15-4 lead before taking their foot of the gas. The Cavaliers recovered enough to go on a run of their own to make the score 19-15, but the damage was done. Boston College won six of the final eight points to take the set 25-17 and go up 2-1 for the match. 

Virginia built off its momentum from the middle of the third set and traded blows with the Eagles into the middle of set four. Eventually, though, the Cavaliers sat down 15-20 with the match looking lost.

Enter senior outside hitter Grace Turner. Virginia won six consecutive points to take the lead, four of which were off of clinical kills by Turner. Turner then picked up another kill after a Cavalier service error. The teams continued to battle, neither able to pick up an advantage. 

Turner tied the game at 28 with the 15th and final kill of her double-double performance, but that was the last point Virginia would win on the night. Boston College’s graduate middle blocker/middle hitter Amaka Chukwujekwu stepped up with a pair of kills that ended the game and gave Boston College a 3-1 victory despite all the fight Virginia had shown.

Loss vs. Syracuse

The Cavaliers started the day poorly, losing the first four points of the first set, the last two on aces from the Orange’s senior outside hitter Polina Shemanova. The rest of the set played out pretty much evenly, with Virginia unable to cut the deficit to more than two or three points and Syracuse unable to pull away by more than four or five. After a kill by Cavalier freshman outside hitter Brooklyn Borum made the score 22-19 in favor of the Orange, Syracuse leveraged two blocks and a Virginia error into a 25-19 first set victory.

The second set, like the first, began with a mini run from Syracuse that left Virginia chasing the game. However, after being down 8-3, a pair of three-point runs orchestrated by Borum and junior outside hitter Simone Dominique allowed the Cavaliers to take a 13-12 lead. Virginia immediately relinquished the lead, and though they pulled within a point four separate times, Syracuse was able to use a kill and a block by junior middle blocker Abby Casiano to slam the door on Virginia and win the second set 25-22.

Backs against the wall, the Cavaliers came out firing to start the third set. Walker registered five of Virginia’s first 10 points on a block and four kills, putting the Cavaliers up 10-6 early. However, the Orange chipped away at that lead, with an attack error by Turner giving Syracuse a brief lead before a five point run put Virginia back up 18-14. Syracuse again came back, tying the game at 18 after three consecutive errors by the Cavaliers and a block by Casiano and freshman outside hitter Diana Akopova. Virginia had enough gas to immediately regain the lead on a Walker kill, but another Syracuse run seemed to sap their energy. Virginia lost the set 25-22 and the match 3-0, handing Virginia their 12th consecutive loss. 

Virginia travels to Wake Forest Friday for a 7 p.m. start before returning to Charlottesville on Sunday to host North Carolina at 3 p.m.

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