Volleyball cements in-state supremacy

VCU volleyball reeled off four victories last week — including three at UVA’s Jefferson Cup — to extend their winning streak to six games.

Howard

The Rams squeaked by Howard University Saturday evening in five sets, finishing the weekend unbeaten in the Jefferson Cup.

It was a back and forth affair in which both VCU and Howard threw their best punches. The Black and Gold won the first two sets of the match, but Howard rallied and took the next two, forcing a final fifth set.

In the final set, VCU out-hit Howard .240 to .071 and prevailed to win a nail-bitter, 15-11.

Offensively, the Rams were led by senior Alicia Kandler, as she registered a season-high 20 kills. Steadfast defense and mistake-free offense from the Rams were the deciding factors of the match.

The Black and Gold blocked 34 attacks from Howard, while the Bison only turned away 22 from VCU. Sophomore middle blocker Jasmin Sneed recorded a match-high 11 blocks while senior libero Rebakah Strange recorded 31 digs on the day as she anchored the backline of the defense. Howard committed 45 hitting errors, while VCU committed only 35.

Ohio

VCU rolled against Ohio University in their first game on Saturday, winning the match in straight sets.

The Rams continued their hot streak against Ohio, as they got off to another quick start. The Black and Gold dominated the first set, hitting .500 while allowing only 11 points.

The Black and Gold did not look back after the dominant first set. The Rams were led defensively by another outstanding performance from junior middle blocker Tori Baldwin as she recorded 15 blocks and 7 kills on the day.

Sneed and junior opposite hitter Julia Adler contributed on defense as well — Sneed registered six blocks and Adler contribute five of her own. Ohio hit a critically low -.019, as they were unable to gain a rhythm offensively. VCU out-blocked the Bison 15-3.

The win against Ohio marked the Rams’ fifth win in a row which is their best stretch dating back to last season.

UVA

The Black and Gold opened the weekend with a victory over in-state rival and tournament host the University of Virginia Friday in straight sets.

VCU got off to a quick start against UVA, taking the first set 25-17 and only committing three errors. The Cavaliers battled back in sets 2 and 3, leaving VCU with small margins for error, but the Rams escaped the final two sets with identical 25-21 scorelines.

UVA built a 15-10 lead in the third set, but VCU sophomore outside hitter Vicky Giommarini sparked a 5-0 run for the Rams by registering two kills. The Black and Gold would end the third set on a 6-0 run after trailing 19-16.

Errors and hitting percentage had a noticeable impact throughout the match. UVA tallied 27 errors compared to VCU’s 11. In part due to the errors, the Rams outhit Virginia by a staggering .264 to .088.

VCU had great balance on offense against Virginia, receiving efficient contributions across the board. Sophomore opposite hitter Gina Tuzzolo and Giommarini tallied seven kills each for VCU, while junior middle blocker Tori Baldwin had four kills and hit .571 from the middle of the court. Sneed anchored the Rams defensively once again by adding five blocks on the day.

After the win on Friday, VCU has now won three of the last four matches against UVA.

High Point

Volleyball prevailed in the final set on Tuesday, Sept. 5 against High Point University in High Point, NC. The five-set nail bitter improved the Rams’ record to 6-2.

The match was predicated on runs and answers from both teams. High Point edged the Rams in the first set, 25-21. However, the Rams bounced back in the second set, winning 25-15.

High Point answered with a third set victory, extending their lead to 2-1. With their backs against the wall, the Black and Gold never blinked as they went on to win the final two sets 25-21 and 15-10.

Tuzzolo led the way for the Rams offensively Tuesday. The Newport News native had a match-high 22.5 points with 8 blocks, and 3 aces in a great all-around performance.

Baldwin continued her great play defensively as she registered a season-high 11 blocks in the matchup while also adding seven kills.

Strange anchored the Rams on the back row defensively, as she tallied a career-high 30 digs.

The win marked the third straight victory for the Rams as they looked to carry momentum with them to Charlottesville and the Jefferson Cup.  

Volleyball’s perfect week extended their winning streak to six games, their best stretch of play since the 2014 season. The Rams look to keep the streak alive in their next matchup on the road against Liberty University on Tuesday, Sept. 12.


Rodney Robinson

Contributing Writer

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