Hokies fall to Yellow Jackets in five-game thriller
Willoughby sets single-season block assists record
November 2, 2007
BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech volleyball team lost a hard-fought battle to Georgia Tech Friday evening in Cassell Coliseum. For the second time this season, the Hokies saw multiple games in a match require extra points, but Tech's comeback in game five fell just short, as the Yellow Jackets escaped with a 3-2 (30-27, 26-30, 32-30, 31-33, 15-13) victory. Sophomore Kristen Cunningham blocked a career-high 12 attacks to lead the Hokies to a season-high 21 blocks, one block shy of the Cassell Coliseum record set in 2001 against West Virginia. Three other Hokies, sophomores Michelle Lang and Betsy Horowitz, and freshman Felicia Willoughby each contributed seven blocks. The seven blocks was a personal-best for Horowitz, while Willoughby's six block assists pushed her season total to 117, breaking Cheryl Stinson's single-season record of 116 in 2002. Sophomore Taylor Parrish, junior Sarah Muñoz and Lang each recorded double-doubles for the Hokies. Parrish landed a season-high 21 kills to go with 19 digs, while Munoz chipped in 11 kills with a season-high 21 digs. Lang dished out 62 assists and collected 12 digs. Defensively, senior Amanda Cloyd dug 13 balls, while sophomore Jill Gergen picked up 10 digs. For Georgia Tech, Talisa Kellogg knocked down a game-high 23 kills, while Chrissy DeMichelis was close behind with 22. The duo led the Yellow Jackets' attack to 82 kills, the most of any Tech opponent this season. Ulrike Stegemann chipped in 19 kills. Defensively for the Jackets, Michelle Kandell collected 27 digs and Lindsey Gray had 18. Allie Niekamp had a double-double, dishing out 71 assists with 11 digs. DeMichelis blocked eight Hokie attacks. The match opened in a back-and-forth battle, with game one featuring 14 tie scores, all before an even 22-22 score. From there, back-to-back points for the Yellow Jackets put them up two, forcing a Hokie timeout. Virginia Tech earned the point out of the break, but another small two-point run of Georgia Tech's put the Jackets up three at 27-24, forcing another Tech timeout. The Hokies closed the gap to one before DeMichelis landed a kill for Georgia Tech, putting the Jackets up 28-26. The two squads traded kills for the next two points, giving Georgia Tech a game-point opportunity at 29-27, and a block for the Jackets secured the win at 30-27. The Hokies used a seven-point run midway through game two to break open an even 17-17 contest, and pull ahead 22-17. Georgia Tech rallied for a 5-1 run of their own, cutting Tech's lead to two at 24-22, but the Hokies used three-straight points to pull ahead 29-25, before Cunningham and Lang teamed for a block for a 30-26 win. Games three and four each featured an even 28-28 score before requiring extra points. In the third frame, a Georgia Tech kill gave the Jackets the first game-point opportunity before Munoz knocked down a kill to even the game at 29 all. Another Yellow Jacket kill put them up one again, but it was Parrish who knotted the score again, before a kill and a block for Georgia Tech put the Yellow Jackets on top 32-30. Game four, however, saw the Hokies come out on top. A ball handling error on the Jackets gave Tech its first game-point opportunity at 29-28, but the Jackets rallied for a kill to force extra points. A Hokie attack error put Georgia Tech up one and a kill from Willoughby evened the score again. A Hokie service error and Jacket attack error knotted the score at 31 each, before Cunningham and Horowitz blocked an attack to force a Georgia Tech timeout. The Hokies earned game-point at 33-31, when the referees called a double-contact on the Yellow Jackets, forcing a fifth-game. Georgia Tech came out in game-five heated after the final call in the previous frame, landing a service ace and back-to-back kills for a quick 3-0 lead. The Hokies rallied for a 4-1 run to even the score at four apiece, before Erin Birmingham landed back-to-back kills for the Jackets, giving them a 6-4 lead. Georgia Tech then argued another ball handling error call against them, resulting in a yellow card for the Jackets, before an ace from Parrish got the score to six each. The Yellow Jackets ran off four-straight points to open a tied 9-9 frame before the Hokies rallied to even the score at 13. Back-to-back kills from Georgia Tech put the game, and match, out of reach for the Hokies, as Tech fell 13-15. The Hokies (12-13, 6-9) will look to rebound tomorrow, as they play host to No. 24 Clemson. Match time is scheduled for 6 p.m.