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Virginia volleyball swept by No. 7 Pittsburgh

The Cavaliers are now on a six game losing streak with only nine games remaining

<p>Virginia now sports just a .111 winning percentage in conference play.</p>

Virginia now sports just a .111 winning percentage in conference play.

Virginia volleyball traveled to Fitzgerald Field House Wednesday to face off against No. 7 ranked Pittsburgh. After two sets to forget for the Cavaliers (8-11, 1-8 ACC), Virginia came back in the third set and put up a fight against the Panthers (17-3, 8-1 ACC) before ultimately losing the match 3-0.

The first set boasted a lackluster performance from the Cavaliers. A .000 hitting percentage crippled any chance of competing with the strong Pittsburgh offense, which produced 16 kills in the first set. Three kills from junior middle blocker Abby Tadder was the highlight of the Virginia offense. The Panthers capitalized on a service error from the Cavaliers to get set point and closed out the first set 25-13.

Long scoring runs from Pittsburgh dominated the second set. An early eight-point run from the Panthers made it almost impossible for Virginia to catch up. After trading points 5-11 to 9-16, the Cavaliers gave up five points in a row and deepened the already substantial lead created by the competitive Pittsburgh offense. A kill from graduate student outside hitter Ciera Hecht and an ace from freshman defensive specialist Meredith Reeg held off the Panthers but ultimately Pittsburgh clinched the second set 25-13.

With one last chance to take a set from the Panthers, Virginia played like a new team. A team total of 11 kills put the Cavaliers back in the mix alongside four blocks from the defense. Virginia also significantly increased their side-out percentage to 62 in comparison to the first two sets’ percentages of 45 and 44. The ability to cut down long scoring runs gave the Cavaliers more opportunities and shifted the energy of the match. Despite this, Pittsburgh managed to outscore Virginia and subsequently won the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.

While the first two sets were far from ideal for the Cavaliers, the competitiveness of the third leaves Virginia with a lot to be proud of. Tadder and graduate student middle blocker Veresia Yon led the offense with eight kills each, pointing to the success of the middle attack. Junior setter Ashley Le led the team in assists with 14 and junior libero Milan Gomillion led the defense with nine digs.

However, moral victories are not enough for Virginia as the season draws on. The Cavaliers now sit second-to-last in the ACC standings, sporting just a 1-8 conference record with nine games to go. While the early season non-conference schedule was kinder, Virginia has been routinely outclassed by its ACC opponents and will continue to face a gauntlet for the remainder of its schedule.

The Cavaliers are back in action Sunday at NC State. First serve against the Wolfpack (15-4, 5-3 ACC) is set for 1 p.m. at James T. Valvano Arena and the match will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.


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