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Virginia volleyball falls in a pair of hard-fought road matches over the weekend

The Cavaliers were able to win sets against both Boston College and Syracuse but could not pull out a victory against either team

<p>Virginia showed toughness throughout the weekend, especially against Boston College, but just missed out on their fourth conference victory of the season.</p>

Virginia showed toughness throughout the weekend, especially against Boston College, but just missed out on their fourth conference victory of the season.

The Virginia volleyball team traveled to Boston College and Syracuse over the weekend for a pair of ACC road matches. Although the Cavaliers (11-14, 3-11 ACC) were unable to come away with a win, they battled deep into each match thanks to the continued stellar play of graduate student hitter Grace Turner.

Virginia’s weekend got underway Friday afternoon inside Connell Recreation Center against the Eagles (17-11, 5-9 ACC). In a nail-biting marathon of a match, Boston College eventually came away with the five-set victory.

The tenor of the match was established early in the first set as the two squads traded leads, neither able to gain any separation. Several early service errors from the Cavaliers kept them from pulling ahead, with Virginia never leading by more than two. The Eagles then took advantage, using a 7-2 scoring run to close out the set 25-19 and grab the early lead.

In a rare instance where neither squad was able to build a significant lead, Virginia was able to take control of the second set. Building off an early 4-0 run and the continued dominance of Turner, the Cavaliers ran out to a 22-14 advantage. After allowing Boston College to trim the lead down to four, Virginia put the Eagles away with three of the final four points to even the match at 1-1.

After trading the first few points of the third set, a 5-0 run helped the Eagles build their largest lead of the match at 19-10. The Cavaliers refused to go away quietly, though, responding with an 11-2 run of their own to tie the set at 21. After a Boston College kill, sophomore blocker Abby Tadder and junior hitter Mary Shaffer combined for three straight kills to give Virginia set point. But the Cavaliers were unable to finish the job, as the Eagles answered with four consecutive points to steal the set and take a 2-1 lead.

In an extremely tight fourth set, neither squad led by more than three points at any point. After pulling ahead 4-3 on a kill by Turner, the Cavaliers kept the Eagles just out of reach until Boston College grabbed the lead back at 18-17. Back-to-back kills by Shaffer and Turner gave the lead right back to Virginia, though, which it didn’t relinquish for the rest of the set, finishing with a 25-23 set victory to knot the match at two apiece.

In the decisive fifth set, the Eagles were able to build a 14-10 lead, giving them four chances at match-point. But consecutive kills by graduate blocker Veresia Yon and Tadder before an attack error by Boston College narrowed the deficit to 14-13. On the following play, it seemed like the Cavaliers had tied the score at 14 after another attack error by the Eagles. However, after a challenge by Boston College, a game-ending net violation was called on Virginia, giving the Eagles the 3-2 win.

Despite the loss, Turner posted a career-high 24 kills — the most for any Cavalier since 2018 — and Yon posted a .786 hitting percentage, the highest by any Virginia player since 2016. Overall, the Cavaliers posted their highest hitting percentage of the season at .280.

Looking to rebound from their loss, Virginia traveled to Syracuse to face the Orange (11-13, 7-7 ACC) Sunday afternoon.

As the first set began, it appeared the Cavaliers were in for another exhaustingly tight match, with seven lead changes and three ties taking place in the opener alone. Syracuse was able to break the stalemate, however, using a 5-0 run and never again losing control. Virginia was unable to gain any more momentum, and the Orange took the first set 25-19.

The second set wasn’t nearly as close. Syracuse used two extended scoring runs of 6-1 and 11-2 respectively to dominate the Cavaliers 25-11.

Virginia responded well in the third set and managed to win its first game on the road against the Orange since 2016. The Cavaliers used several short scoring runs to gain separation and never trailed in the set as they cut into Syracuse’s lead with a 25-20 win.

The Virginia comeback would end there, however, as the Orange clinched the match with a 25-22 win in the fourth set. The Cavaliers rallied from an early 7-1 deficit in the set and eventually held a 20-17 lead, but Syracuse used an 8-2 run to end the match.

The Cavaliers return to Memorial Gymnasium Friday night to begin their final homestand of the season. Virginia takes on Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. as part of the Commonwealth Clash with coverage available on ACC Network Extra.