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Virginia volleyball falters against Louisville but picks up second ACC win over the weekend against Notre Dame

The Cavaliers split two conference matchups against both the top and bottom of the league

<p>Senior Dominique Simone added two receptions to help Virginia defeat Notre Dame Sunday.</p>

Senior Dominique Simone added two receptions to help Virginia defeat Notre Dame Sunday.

The Virginia volleyball team finished off their four-game homestand with a pair of conference matches against No. 2 Louisville and Notre Dame over the weekend. After falling to the highly ranked Cardinals (18-2, 9-1 ACC) in straight sets Friday, the Cavaliers (10-11, 2-8 ACC) rebounded to earn their second conference victory of the season Sunday over the Fighting Irish (9-11, 4-6 ACC), winning 3-0.

Virginia vs. Louisville

In a daunting matchup for Virginia Friday, Louisville showed why they are considered one of the nation’s premiere programs. The Cardinals — the highest-ranked team the Cavaliers have faced all season — beat Virginia to extend their ACC winning streak to 38 games.

The Cavaliers were able to hold their own for stretches during the match. They kept things close for much of the first set, fighting back from an early deficit to cut the Cardinal lead to just one, but Lousiville ultimately pulled away at the end to take the opener 25-18.

After a non-competitive second set, Virginia had its best chance to get on the scoreboard in the third, holding a late 22-20. Again, though, the Cardinals overpowered the Cavaliers to take the set 25-22 and a 3-0 victory.

Graduate outside hitter Grace Turner continued to be a bright spot for the Cavaliers as she led the team in kills for the 14th time this season. Defensively, sophomore Heyli Velasquez led the team with 24 receptions to just four errors.

Virginia vs. Notre Dame

Virginia showed their resilience Sunday afternoon as they brushed off Friday’s loss to beat Notre Dame 3-0, their first sweep of an ACC opponent since 2019.

In an extremely tight first set in which neither squad led by more than four points, the Cavaliers found themselves in a late 24-21 hole. Facing set point, Virginia was able to rattle off three-straight points thanks in part to a pair of service aces by sophomore setter Ashley Le. With the momentum back on their side, the Cavaliers used another 3-0 scoring run to finish off the first set 27-25.

The majority of the second set was just as tightly contested as the first. Virginia and the Fighting Irish traded leads with neither squad able to gain a significant edge. Trailing 16-14, the Cavaliers finally found the burst they’d been waiting for as they capitalized on several Notre Dame errors to go on a 5-0 scoring run. With momentum on its side, Virginia scored 11 of the final 14 points in the set to take a 2-0 lead.

Looking to put the Fighting Irish away, the Cavaliers used a 7-1 scoring run early in the third set to take an 8-5 lead. The two squads traded points through the middle of the set and Notre Dame managed to grab a late 19-18 lead after a few errors by Virginia. Once again, however, the Cavaliers finished strong, using a 7-0 run to flip the score and finish off the match with a 25-19 set win.

Virginia used a balanced offensive effort in their sweep of the Fighting Irish. Turner and sophomore blocker Abby Tadder each posted a match-high eight kills and graduate blocker Veresia Yon added six of her own. 

The win gives the Cavaliers their first season with multiple ACC wins since 2019, an important step for the rebuilding program.

Virginia will try to start a winning streak against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Friday at 6 p.m. before heading south to take on Wake Forest Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.