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Virginia volleyball splits Jefferson Cup Invitational at home

The Cavaliers swept Norfolk State but later lost to Wofford in four sets

<p>Junior libero Milan Gomillion racked up 30 total digs in the two-day tournament.</p>

Junior libero Milan Gomillion racked up 30 total digs in the two-day tournament.

Virginia volleyball hosted the Jefferson Cup Invitational Friday and Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium. The Cavaliers (7-3, 0-0 ACC) defeated Norfolk State in a three-set sweep but could not hold on to beat Wofford.

Virginia’s weekend opener against the Spartans (1-6, 0-0 MEAC) was ideal, resulting in a 3-0 sweep to start the weekend on the right foot. The Cavaliers dominated on offense with a .412 hitting percentage in comparison to Norfolk State’s .159. 

Points bounced between the two at the beginning of the first set, but after an eight-point run by Virginia, the Cavaliers were able to close out the set 25-16. The trio of junior middle blocker Abby Tadder, freshman pin hitter Lauryn Bowie and graduate middle blocker Veresia Yon aided the Virginia offense with three kills each.

Even though the Cavaliers had an early lead, the second set proved to be tough for either side to clinch. Virginia jumped out to a 15-10 lead over the Spartans, but Norfolk State responded with five straight points of their own. With the assistance of graduate student outside hitter Ciara Hecht and senior pin hitter Chloe Wilson, the Cavaliers managed to fight back with a six-point run and eventually closed out the set 25-17. 

Virginia capitalized on offense in the third and final set of the match. A .429 hitting percentage from the Cavaliers all but guaranteed the win. Tadder and Hecht notched five kills each and helped secure a 25-15 third-set victory for Virginia.

Notable performances by the Cavaliers include a six-block performance from Tadder and a match-high 33 assists from junior setter Ashley Le. Junior libero Milan Gomillion also produced a match-high 11 digs on the defensive end.

The closing match of the Invitational Saturday against the Terriers (9-2, 0-0 Southern) was not in Virginia’s favor. After a stellar performance in the first set from the Cavaliers, Virginia was unable to keep the momentum and dropped the next three sets to Wofford.

The first set was close from the start after the Cavaliers and the Terriers traded points up until an 8-8 tie. Virginia jumped ahead from there — with two long scoring runs and a hot offense, the Cavaliers were able to close out the first set 25-17. Wilson posted a five-kill set to contribute to the offensive efforts.

Moving into the second set, Virginia was unable to hold onto the momentum created in the first. Points bounced back and forth and the Cavaliers managed to be up 21-19, but Virginia could not deny the Wofford duo of junior rightside Sarah MacLean and senior middle blocker Sarah Barham, who tallied kills on five of the last six points from the Terriers and won the set 25-23.

Wofford dominated the third set from start to finish. The Cavaliers tried to hold on with seven kills at the beginning of the set, but after a 13-12 Terriers lead, Wofford went on a 9-1 run to cement the lead. The Terriers went on to win the set 25-15. Virginia was unable to compete with the Wofford offense and ended up with 14 attacking errors.

The Cavalier offense started to come to life again in the fourth set but ultimately was not enough to hold off the Terriers. After trading points in the opening stage of the set, Wofford managed to create a five-point run that would pave the way for a Terrier victory. A massive effort from the Cavalier front row kept Virginia in the mix, but it was not enough to force a fifth set. Wofford closed match point with a kill for a 25-20 set and 3-1 match win.

Even with a less-than-stellar final match, the Cavaliers had a few notable stats. Bowie led both teams with 13 kills, Yon tied a match-high six blocks and Le had a match-high 36 assists. 

The defensive efforts of Virginia were also noted — Gomillion was selected to the all-tournament team after a weekend total of 30 digs. Wilson was also selected after producing 18 kills and five blocks throughout the weekend.

While the Cavaliers took care of business against Norfolk State, Wofford gave them plenty to work on ahead of conference play. They will need to find a way to stop extended runs as competition ramps up to hang with the best of the ACC.

Virginia will open conference play at North Carolina Friday at 6 p.m. and then head to Duke Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.