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Virginia volleyball 2022-23 preview

The Cavaliers hope for continued growth in year two of Coach Shannon Wells’ time in Charlottesville

<p>The Cavaliers look to perform better in 2022, as several strong opponents loom on their schedule.</p>

The Cavaliers look to perform better in 2022, as several strong opponents loom on their schedule.

After a difficult 2021-22 season, the Virginia volleyball team is looking to continue rebuilding in its second season under the command of Coach Shannon Wells. Despite a key departure, the Cavaliers bring in a number of new faces that will hopefully put the team in position to win multiple games in a fiercely competitive ACC that has seen them win just one game over the past two seasons.

Following a 2-12 (0-12 ACC) season in 2020-21, the Cavaliers decided to clean house before the 2021-22 season by removing the entire coaching staff and hiring Coach Shannon Wells to implement a new culture and help rebuild the struggling program. In the first year of her tenure, Virginia finished with an 8-20 (1-17 ACC) record. 

The Cavaliers were able to perform fairly well to begin the season, starting with a 7-3 record before entering ACC play. Once conference play began against some of the nation’s best competition, however, wins became much harder to come by for Wells’ squad. Virginia finished their schedule with just one win in their final 18 contests.

The Cavaliers will bring back several talented players from last season, including sophomore outside hitter Brooklyn Borum who made the ACC All-Freshman team in 2021, graduate outside hitter Grace Turner, and sophomore setter Ashley Le who led last year’s squad with 506 assists. 

Virginia also brought in some key transfers during the offseason, which should help bolster the roster and provide invaluable veteran leadership. Graduate student setter Gabby Easton and junior outside hitter GG Carvacho join the Cavaliers after stints at Ole Miss, junior outside hitter Chloe Wilson transferred from ACC foe Wake Forest and graduate student middle blocker Veresia Yon joins Virginia after a four-year career at Division II powerhouse West Florida. 

The most notable departure from last year’s roster is middle blocker Alana Walker, who led the ACC with 1.51 blocks per set. Yon, with help from sophomore middle blocker Abby Tadder, will most likely be charged with filling the void left by Walker. The Cavaliers will no doubt need Yon to step up in a big way.

The Cavaliers’ 2022 campaign kicks off Friday with a match against ETSU as part of the Gators Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. Virginia will face a relatively easy non-conference schedule this season with only one contest against a top-25 ranked opponent when they face No. 15 Florida Saturday evening. 

The competition should once again become more difficult when the Cavaliers move into conference play in late September. After a strong showing last season, the ACC enters 2022 with three teams ranked in the top-25 — No. 4 Louisville, No. 6 Pittsburgh and No. 9 Georgia Tech.

Virginia fans will hope to see signs of improvement in year two under Wells. It will be difficult to overcome the loss of Walker, but the new transfer additions should help create a more well-rounded, veteran roster. Additionally, with the development of several standout freshmen from last season, the Cavaliers should see more signs of life. 

Virginia has a good chance to get some wins under their belt during the non-conference portion of their schedule and will hopefully pick up more victories than last year in their ACC slate.

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