Virginia Tech volleyball (11–18, 4–14 ACC) ended its season with a whimper on Friday, losing 3–1 to Notre Dame (10–18, 5–13 ACC) and finishing last in the ACC.
Notre Dame dominated the start of the match, winning the first set, 25–14, and the second set, 25–20. The Fighting Irish’s seven service aces and four blocks during the first two sets generated early leads that the Hokies couldn’t overcome.
Tech started to show some life in the third set, winning 25–23 to avoid a sweep. The Hokies built a multiple point lead for the first time all match, going ahead 23–16. The Irish then proceeded to score seven consecutive points, tying the match at 23. Eventually, the Hokies pulled away, cutting the match deficit to one set.
While the first two sets were blowouts, the final two sets were the opposite with the final consisting of eight ties and five lead changes. While the Hokies jumped to a 19–15 lead, the Irish scored 10 of the next 13 points to win the set, 25–22, as well as the match.
The Irish had 13 service aces on Friday afternoon, led by outside hitters Lucy Trump and Clare Delaplane. The Hokies, on the other hand, only had three aces all match.
As well as struggling with service pressure, Tech’s offense was not at its best. The Hokies had a 0.196 hitting percentage as a team, and no player had a hitting percentage above 0.286. Outside hitter Cera Powell had 13 kills, but otherwise, no Hokie had a kill total in double-digits.
“(Our service pressure) was good at times, it wasn’t good at enough times, and (Notre Dame was) able to stay in system,” said Hokies head coach Marci Byers. “When you’re able to be in system more often than not, it’s just hard (to stop).”
Along with Tech’s offensive struggles, they had difficulty stopping the Irish’s Trump and middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler. Trump led with 16 kills, while Winkler trailed with 13. Both players generated challenges for the Hokies to slow down the Fighting Irish.
“The quick ball in the middle was a struggle for us today, just to be able to slow that down,” Byers said.
The Hokies noticeably improved in the final two sets, shifting the match’s momentum to avoid a sweep. Between the second and third sets, Byers gathered the team in the locker room.
“(I said) we were doing some things really well, and we were doing some things that weren’t,” Byers said. “If we can clean up a few things, we would be right back into the match.”
As the 2022 season concludes, Byers is disappointed with Tech’s win total and lack of postseason play. However, the Hokies’ young core, including nine true freshmen, gives her something to work with.
“We’re just going to have to be able to get better with the young team and move forward,” Byers said.