The Virginia volleyball team traveled to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md. to compete in the DMV Invitational. The Cavaliers (6-2, 0-0 ACC) started off the weekend against Howard University in Burr Gymnasium Friday, before traveling to the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena to play Coastal Carolina and UMBC on Saturday and Sunday.
Match 1 – Virginia 3, Howard 0
Virginia opened the invitational with a strong offensive showing, sweeping Howard (3-6, 0-0 MEAC) in three sets. The first set saw an early lead, with the Cavaliers ahead by as many as 12 points in the first half of the set. Virginia's offense never faltered throughout the set, with junior setter Ashley Le putting up 14 assists. Junior middle blocker Abby Tadder and freshman pin hitter Lauryn Bowie led the team in kills, both with no errors during the first set. The Cavaliers finished the set with a resounding win, ending 25-15.
Howard maintained an even score of 6-6 at the beginning of the second set, but Virginia surged ahead to a score of 15-7. The Bisons fought to shrink the gap, cutting the lead to two points, only for a kill and ace by Le to break their momentum. The Cavaliers never trailed again, finishing out the set 25-21. Tadder continued to be a major presence with five kills on six attempts, while graduate middle blocker Veresia Yon contributed five kills and two aces.
The third set saw another strong start by Virginia, as it broke the game open with an early 11-4 lead. Howard profited off an offensive lull, but the Cavaliers pulled within one point at 13-12, and the teams were closely matched until the end of the set. At 22-21, Tadder pulled the Cavaliers ahead with a kill, with an ace from junior libero Milan Gomillion and a Bison attack error deciding the match.
Match 2 – Virginia 0, Coastal Carolina 3
Virginia’s subsequent match against Coastal Carolina saw a different outcome, with the Cavaliers falling to the Chanticleers (4-5, 0-0 Sun Belt) in a devastating 3-0 loss on Saturday.
Following a strong showing in the match against Howard, Virginia offense slowed considerably, seeing just 15 kills to 16 errors in the first set. Tadder led with four kills and Gomillion contributed defensively with nine digs. The Chanticleers were able to take advantage of Virginia’s numerous errors, taking the first set 25-20.
Virginia grappled for the lead early in the second set, reaching a score of 11-11 before the Chanticleers went on a commanding nine point run. Coastal Carolina’s large lead proved difficult for Virginia to overcome, with the Chanticleers taking the second set 25-17. Bowie led the Cavaliers offense in the second set, notching four kills on eight attempts.
The third set saw a renewed competitiveness from the Cavaliers, remaining close until late in the set. After being tied 18-18, the Cavalier offense was outpaced in the final stretch 4-7. Tadder led once again with four kills on seven attempts, registering a .429 hitting percentage.
Match 3 – Virginia 3, UMBC 1
Virginia bounced back from a tough loss against Coastal Carolina to win 3-1 against UMBC Sunday. The match opened with a nail-biter set that saw the Cavaliers prevail 27-25. Virginia and the Retrievers (5-3, 0-0 America East) grappled for the lead until the Cavaliers pulled away late in the set, 18-14. The Retrievers responded in the final stretch to tie it up at 25-25. A key kill by graduate outside hitter Ciera Hecht and a well-timed block by Tadder and senior pin hitter Chloe Wilson decided the set. Bowie notched four kills, while Wilson and Tadder contributed three blocks.
Virginia stayed closely behind the Retrievers for the second set, forcing a UMBC time at 19-20. Following the break, the Retrievers scored four unanswered points, putting them in a decisive lead. The Cavaliers attempted to tie it up with a short run of two points but fell short as UMBC took the second set 25-21 to even the match, 1-1.
The third set saw a struggle for a lead by both sides, with neither able to take a commanding lead until late in the set. Following the Retrievers pulling with one, 17-16, the Cavaliers outscored UMBC in the final stretch 8-3 to take the third set, 25-19. Tadder continued to show up at the net, notching four blocks.
The Cavaliers trailed for the majority of the fourth set, finding themselves down 23-17 before pulling off a stunning seven unanswered points to tie the game. The score volleyed back and forth before a UMBC service error, followed by an ace by freshman defensive specialist Meredith Reeg, sealed the match for Virginia with a 28-26 win.
This weekend saw Virginia showcase a strong offense, with Tadder positioning herself as a steady leader offensively. Le also contributed significantly to the Cavaliers’ success, recording her fourth double-double of the season with 39 assists and 16 digs in the final match against UMBC.
The Cavaliers will return to Memorial Gymnasium this upcoming weekend to host the Jefferson Cup Invitational. Virginia will host Norfolk State Friday at 7 p.m., before challenging either George Washington or Wofford Saturday. The matches will stream on ACC Network Extra.