The Virginia volleyball team has endured a lot of tough losses in ACC play. UVA’s final match of the season on Friday at Boston College was perhaps the most painful.
The Cavaliers won two out of the first three sets and led the Eagles 10-5 in the deciding fifth set. It seemed the Hoos were going to cap off a frustrating season with a big win to get the program moving in the right direction heading into next season.
But, Boston College rallied to tie the set and eventually won 15-13 to snatch the victory away from the Cavaliers in a five-set heartbreaker in Chestnut Hill.
Virginia came out firing in the first set, looking to leave it all on the court in the final match of the 2021 volleyball season. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 7-3 lead, before the Eagles rallied to tie the set at 9. The team’s stayed within a point of each other until Virginia won three straight points to gain a bit of separation. A kill from Brooklyn Borum clinched a 25-20 victory for the Hoos in the opening set. Borum led Virginia with 10 kills and 10 digs.
The second set was tightly contested and the two teams were even at 10-10. Then, Boston College went on a 12-1 run to take complete control of the set. Gabby McCaa picked up five blocks and two kills over the run and the Eagles tied the match at one set apiece with a 25-14 win in the second game.
Not to be deterred by the second set loss, Virginia led wire-to-wire and won the third set in convincing fashion, 25-14. A pair of kills from Mary Shaffer clinched the set as UVA took a 2-1 lead in the match. Shaffer finished with eight kills, three digs, and six blocks.
Virginia needed to win only one of the fourth or fifth sets in order to snap a 15-match losing streak that dated back to September 26th.
Boston College would not go away easily, winning 10 of the first 13 points of the fourth set and never relinquishing its lead to once again even the match at 2-2 and force a winner-take-all fifth set. Clare Naughton was instrumental down the stretch for the Eagles and finished with 12 kills and six digs.
Virginia started the pivotal fifth set with a strong 5-1 run. A couple of kills by Grace Turner, who had eight kills in the match, put Virginia up 10-5, needing just five more points to clinch the match. Boston College won six of the next seven points to tie the set at 11-11. The teams traded until the set was once again tied at 13-13. A kill by Mackenzie Furhmann set up a match point for the Eagles and they clinched it on an attack error by Brooklyn Borum.
It was a heartbreaking end to a season filled with disappointing losses for the Hoos, who were competitive in several of their matches, but just could not make enough plays down the stretch.
Both playing in their final matches for Virginia, Alana Walker had eight kills and 10 blocks and Kristen Leland recorded 17 digs. Hannah Prendergast had 19 assists and Ashley Le had 18 assists and both setters finished with six digs.
Virginia ends its first season under head coach Shannon Wells with an 8-20 overall record, including a 1-17 record in ACC play. It will not show up in the wins and losses column, but the UVA volleyball program took some important steps in the right direction this season. The Cavaliers were more competitive with the elite teams in the conference than in years past and the Hoos played very well in non-conference play, turning in a 7-3 record.
As Shannon Wells begins to bring in her own recruiting classes, it is not far-fetched to expect that UVA will win more ACC games at Memorial Gymnasium in the near future.