The Virginia Tech volleyball team returned home this past week after an exciting win at Maryland to host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Duke Blue Devils on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The opening set against Wake Forest Thursday night was tied up nine different times, but the Hokies (10-8, 3-4) overtook the Deacons to win the set 27-25.
Wake came out strong in the second set, taking it 25-20, while the Hokies allowed the Deacons to hang around in the third set; the Deacons stole it 26-24.
Down 2-1 in sets, the Hokies were not finished. Tech regained momentum in the fourth set and took a comfortable nine-point lead on the Deacons, this time putting the set away 25-17 and carrying that fire into the fifth set, dominating it 15-7 and winning the match three sets to two.
The Hokies again looked to keep their momentum going against Duke on Friday night by jumping out and taking the first set impressively by a score of 25-16.
The Hokies and Blue Devils battled back and forth in the next two sets, with Duke taking the second set 25-17, and Tech claiming the third 25-23.
The Hokies fought closely in the fourth set but were unable to put the match away, as Duke claimed the set 25-17.
Tech, for the third match in a row, looked like it would keep its dramatic fifth set magic going when it jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Duke would rally, eventually breaking a 4-4 tie and never looking back to take the set 15-10, and the match 3-2.
Junior Jennifer Wiker, who had nine kills in the effort, summed up the match against Duke.
“We always play well against Duke,” she said. “It’s a tough match, we just came up a little short and a couple errors here and there added up.”
Junior Cara Baarendse, who led the Hokies in kills with 16, pointed out that the difference in the game came down to serving.
“I think that’s what we could’ve worked on, our serving game,” she said. “That’s what they had better than us.”
Duke had only seven service errors compared to Tech’s 12.
Head coach Chris Riley acknowledged Tech’s effort but also pointed out there is always something to learn from and improve upon with each game.
“We still went five (sets) with them, they’re a good team and we played well at times,” he said. “We learned a little bit and we’ll get better.”
On a positive note, senior Justine Record moved up in the record books with two service aces during the match, moving her into sole possession of fifth place on the school’s all-time list with 150 career service aces at Tech. The next milestone will be 158 aces, as that will move her into fourth place.
Record and the Hokies head to North Carolina tonight at 7 p.m., to face off with the North Carolina Tar Heels and then scoot over to Raleigh, to play the Wolfpack of NC State in a Friday evening match.