September 13, 2008
Hokies outlast Cardinals, Razorbacks for Arkansas Invite title
Willoughby selected as tournament MVP
Virginia Tech (7-2 (3-0)) 25192519153
Arkansas (3-7 (2-1)) 2325162572
  • Barnhill Arena - 728

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Virginia Tech battled through two five-set matches to win the Arkansas Invitational on Saturday at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. The Hokies held off Lamar 3-2 (25-16, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-13) and Arkansas 3-2 (25-23, 19-25, 25-16, 19-25, 15-7) to capture their second tournament title this season.

Sophomore Felicia Willoughby earned tournament MVP honors. Junior Jill Gergen and freshman Justine Record were also named to the all-tournament team. Willoughby led Tech with 42 kills and also blocked 10 attacks in the three matches. Gergen dug 50 attacks on the weekend, while Record tallied 40 kills and 34 digs.

The Hokies (7-2, 0-0 ACC) had to hold off a surging Lamar (2-7, 0-0 Southland) squad in the early match. After winning the first two sets, Tech dropped the next two, but finally put away the Lady Cardinals in the fifth set 15-13.

Tech looked like it would have no trouble in the match, gaining advantages of 10 and nine in sets one and two respectively, and eventually taking them 25-16 and 25-17. The Lady Cardinals proved resilient though, dominating set three 25-18, and holding off the Hokies in the fourth frame 25-23. Tech regrouped in the fifth stanza, jumping out to a 10-5 lead. Lamar would not go away though, and closed the lead to one at 14-13. The Hokies went to Willoughby went it counted, and the Pleasanton, Calif., native ended the match with her 16th kill.

Record and junior Taylor Parrish also registered double-digit kills in the bout, along with Willoughby, recording 12 and 11 respectively. Record also amassed 11 digs for a double-double. Four Hokies tallied double-digit digs, with Gergen earning a game-high 19 from the back row. Freshman Erin Leaser collected 44 assists and senior Betsy Horowitz blocked six attacks in the match.

Lamar held Tech to its lowest hitting percentage of the season, hitting at only a .147 clip, but the Hokies held the Lady Cardinals to a .039 hitting percentage. The Hokies also outblocked Lamar with a season-high 18 denials to the Lady Cardinals’ 14.

In the nightcap, the Hokies had to take on host Arkansas (3-7, 0-0 SEC). The two squads exchanged sets going into the fifth stanza, where Tech finally established control.

Tech fell behind early in the first set, before catching up to the Razorbacks at 11-11 and pulling ahead 12-11. The Hokies would not give up the lead again in set one, winning 25-23. Tech once again trailed early in the second frame, but eventually tied it up at 11 apiece for the second straight set. This time, Arkansas pushed ahead to 12-11 and did not relinquish the lead again, taking the frame 25-19.

The Hokies jumped on the Razorbacks early in the third stanza, leaping out to a 10-5 advantage. Tech kept their distance for the rest of the set, winning it 25-16. Arkansas responded again though, with another 25-19 victory in set four.

In he fifth frame, the Hokies found themselves trailing 4-1 initially. The squad fought the fatigue though, and stormed back to tie the set at five apiece and never looked back. Tech went on to win 10 of the next 12 points to put away the Razorbacks, with a 15-7 triumph.

Record followed up a strong performance against Lamar, with a dominating effort against Arkansas, registering her second consecutive double-double with 19 kills and 15 digs. Willoughby added a career-high 17, while Parrish and senior Kristen Cunningham both totaled 12 kills each. Leaser dished out a season-high 57 assists and Horowitz led the squad again with 5 blocks. Tech hit .261 as a team to Arkansas’ .194 hitting percentage.

Tech swept Tennessee-Martin on Friday, along with the two victories on Saturday to secure the Arkansas Invitational crown. The title is the second in regular-season tournaments for the Hokies the season. Tech won the Hokie Invitational in August.

The Hokies will rest up this week for their final regular-season tournament in Wilmington, N.C. next weekend. Tech will face UNC Wilmington on Sept. 19 and UNC Asheville the following day.

For updates on Virginia Tech volleyball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_VBall).

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