Virginia volleyball hosted Syracuse and Boston College over the weekend at Memorial Gymnasium. The Cavaliers (8-6, 1-3 ACC) defeated the Orange (2-12, 0-4 ACC) Friday in a four-set matchup to earn their first victory over Syracuse since 2003. However, Virginia was unable to secure a victory against the Eagles (12-6, 1-3 ACC) Sunday, losing in four sets.
Game 1 — Virginia 3, Syracuse 1
After a three-point opening run by the Orange in the first set, the Cavaliers responded with a four-point run of their own. Points bounced back and forth throughout the set, but longer runs from Virginia paired with 15 kills from the Cavalier offense gave them the edge over Syracuse and helped close out the set 25-18.
The second set was a success for Virginia as they never trailed the Orange. The Cavalier offense excelled, specifically junior middle blocker Abby Tadder. Tadder’s role looked a bit different against Syracuse due to a position shift to right-side hitter, but she still delivered four kills and four blocks in the second. Virginia took the second set 25-16.
Offense was slow for Virginia in the third set with only seven kills, three belonging to graduate student outside hitter Ciera Hecht. A 9-9 tie gave the Cavaliers a fresh slate, but the Orange responded with multiple scoring runs. Paired with errors from Virginia, Syracuse was able to pull away and take the third set 25-14.
The fourth and final set mimicked the first two for the Cavaliers. A highly productive Virginia offense kept the Cavaliers in the lead for most of the set. Senior outside Chloe Wilson dominated with five kills on only eight attempts in the set. Virginia’s 17 total kills in the fourth set all but ensured a set win and subsequently the match. The 25-16 score marked the end of the conference match against the Orange and gave the Cavaliers their first conference win of the season.
Freshman middle blocker Lily Gervase made her first career start at Virginia and produced six blocks. Graduate student setter Regan Trueblood led in assists with 27 and junior defensive specialist Heyli Velasquez led the defense with 11 digs.
Game 2 — Virginia 1, Boston College 3
In the match against Boston College, the Cavaliers could not replicate their offensive success against Syracuse, dropping the match 3-1. A first-set hitting percentage of -.031 started the match off on a low note and Virginia had a hard time producing offensively for the rest of the match.
Multiple runs from the Eagles prevented the Cavaliers from catching up in the first set. After an early 3-2 Virginia lead, Boston College did not trail for the rest of the set. Eight attacking errors from the Cavalier offense was far from ideal and contributed to the negative hitting percentage. As a whole, Virginia struggled to string together points and lost the first set 25-17.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the second set but the Eagles responded with a five-point run of their own. From that point on the set was extremely close, with neither team leading by more than four points. After a 23-23 tie, Velasquez served two aces to close out the set 25-23.
Boston College had an early 6-1 lead in the third set that was quickly erased with six straight points from Virginia. Points were traded back and forth throughout and the Eagles managed to string together a few runs to win the set 25-19 over the Cavaliers. Three kills and an ace from junior outside hitter Brooklyn Borum aided the Virginia offense in their efforts.
The fourth and final set was much like the third. Boston College leapt out to an early 9-4 lead and the Cavaliers battled their way to a 13-13 tie. Despite Virginia’s best efforts, the Eagles maintained a lead from that point and rattled off four points straight to close out the set 25-19 and win the match 3-1 over the Cavaliers.
Junior libero Milan Gomillion led both teams with 17 digs in the match and junior setter Ashley Le led Virginia with 20 assists.
With the weekend split, the Cavaliers drop to 1-3 in the ACC. Though both of the weekend’s matches were competitive and Virginia showed resilience, splitting with teams around the bottom of the ACC is not a recipe for success with regard to conference seeding. While the talent is there, the execution of fundamentals on the offensive side must be better for the program to emerge from an early hole it has dug itself.
The Cavaliers see an opportunity to get it right Friday evening as they host a middling Clemson squad at 7 p.m. A true test will come Sunday as Virginia hosts ACC-leading No. 11 Georgia Tech at 1 p.m.