The Virginia volleyball team traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio Friday to participate in the Xavier Tournament, their second non-conference event of the season. Inside of Xavier’s Cintas Center, the Cavaliers (5-1, 0-0 ACC) had a very successful weekend, finishing with a tournament-best 3-0 record.
The action began Friday evening as Virginia took on host Xavier. The Cavaliers managed to pull off a victory over the Musketeers (5-1, 0-0 Big East) in five sets, but it took a herculean comeback to do so.
Xavier started off strong in the first set, using a 14-2 spurt to pull away from the Cavaliers and cruise to the win. The second set was much tighter, with the Cavaliers holding a narrow 23-21 lead down the stretch. Ties ensued at 23-23, 24-24, and 25-25 before Xavier won two straight points to claim the set and take a 2-0 lead.
Virginia would not go quietly into the night, though. The match’s third set was again a back-and-forth affair, with the Musketeers managing to take the Cavaliers to match point at 24-23. A clutch kill by junior outside hitter Mary Shaffer and consecutive crucial blocks by Virginia’s blockers flipped to the score to 25-24. After the score was again knotted at 25, Virginia clinched the set 27-25 thanks to a kill by sophomore outside hitter Brooklyn Borum and an error by Xavier.
In the match’s fourth set, the Cavaliers were finally able to feel comfortable, using a 9-0 spurt with Borum serving to pull away and tie the match at 2-2 with a 25-16 set victory.
With the score tied at 13 in the match’s decisive fifth set, graduate outside hitter Grace Turner and Borum scored consecutive points for Virginia to clinch the match and complete the inspiring comeback.
The effort was the Cavaliers’ first win in which they came back from a 2-0 deficit under Coach Shannon Wells. Virginia had several notable performances against the Musketeers including Turner who racked up 19 kills and 14 digs, Shaffer who finished with 14 kills, and sophomore Setter Ashley Le who contributed 33 assists and 13 digs.
The Cavaliers’ second game of the tournament came Saturday morning against Purdue Fort Wayne.
In what was the first ever meeting between the two programs, Virginia had little trouble with the Mastodons (3-3, 0-0 Horizon League), winning in straight sets (25-19, 25-18, 25-23).
In each of the match’s first two sets, the Cavaliers managed to keep Purdue Fort Wayne at arm’s length. A 9-2 run in the first set and 6 Mastodon errors in the second set helped Virginia jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The third set was much closer as Purdue Fort Wayne grabbed an early 12-4 lead. The Cavaliers managed to fight their way back, but they still trailed 23-22 before three-straight kills won them the set and clinched the match 3-0.
Junior Libero Madison Morey’s 15 digs were a key part of the effort for Virginia as the Cavaliers held the Mastodons to a .104 hitting percentage.
Looking to finish off their weekend with a third victory, Virginia faced Eastern Michigan Saturday afternoon.
Early on in the match, it seemed the Cavaliers would have little problem with the Eagles (0-6, 0-0 Mid-American) as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Eastern Michigan, however, made things much more competitive in the third set. The Eagles opened a 20-12 lead before Virginia clawed back to go up 24-23. But Eastern Michigan then closed out the set with three-straight points to force a fourth set. The Eagles weren’t finished, either, as they never let the Cavaliers lead in the match’s fourth set and evened the match at 2-2. What appeared to be the weakest opponent in the tournament suddenly was giving Virginia a challenge.
Despite relinquishing their 2-0, Virginia didn’t allow itself to become flustered. The Cavaliers slammed the door on Eastern Michigan’s comeback hopes in the final set, jumping out to a 10-6 lead before rattling off five straight points to win the set and clinch the match 3-2.
The outstanding play of Morey, sophomore middle blocker Abby Tadder and Turner over the weekend helped the Cavaliers raise their overall record to 5-1 and earned the trio of players a spot on the all-tournament team.
Next up on the schedule for Virginia is a return home to Memorial Gymnasium for a pair of matches against Charlotte Friday and Saturday.