Coming off of an impressive 12-2 start to the season, and looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals, the Virginia Tech volleyball team had high expectations when they arrived in Winston-Salem, N.C. for the first of two games last weekend against Wake Forest.
After losing the first set to the Demon Deacons, the Hokies rallied to win the next three by a combined margin of 75-51 en route to their 13th win of the season and first of the weekend.
Admittedly, jitters got the better of some of the more inexperienced members of the team in the first set loss.
“It was really loud and I think we just needed to calm ourselves down,” said freshman outside hitter Lindsey Owens. “We were nervous in our first ACC match, at least I know I was.”
The momentum gained in Friday’s victory did not carry over to Saturday’s contest at Duke. For the first time this season, the Hokies lost in three sets—tallying their third loss of the season. They committed 23 errors in three sets for an average of 7.67 errors per set—their highest of the season.
The Hokies had trouble putting the pieces together, hitting just .048 percent in the third and final set.
“We weren’t sharp as a group for the whole match and Duke caused a lot of the mistakes we made,” said head coach Chris Riley. “They were just much better than us on that night.”
The Tech volleyball team doesn’t have much time to lament the loss, however, as two big conference matchups approach this weekend in the form of Pittsburgh and Maryland.
The girls on the team are very familiar with the threat Maryland poses and the hard-fought match it’s sure to be. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is a brand new conference opponent. In fact, the Hokies have only faced off with the Panthers three times this century, two of which resulted in Tech victories.
“We’re excited to play a new team and have a new challenge,” said senior middle blocker Victoria Hamsher. “We saw them a little bit when we played and split with them in the spring, but we still don’t know them very well.”
Despite the unfamiliarity, Riley expects Pitt’s best shot this weekend.
“They’re 2-0, and they’ve beaten some good teams,” he said. “They’re big, they’re physical and they attack well—we’re going to have to go in there and earn a victory.”
The second matchup of the weekend presents a challenge that the Hokies are very familiar with. The Terrapins are winners of four of their last five matchups against Tech and enter this weekend with a 9-5 record.
“Maryland has always been a good team that we’ve been right there with and gone back and forth with,” said Hamsher. “They have a couple of really good players that we’re going to need to target when we go up against them.”