October 18, 2008
Tech suffers first loss at home on the season
Cunningham belts 11 kills in the effort
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Duke (15-6) 252521253
Virginia Tech (16-4) 172025131
  • Cassell Coliseum - 721

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Twenty matches deep into the 2008 campaign, the Virginia Tech volleyball team suffered its first loss at home Saturday night, falling to Duke 3-1 (17-25, 20-25, 25-21, 13-25) at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.

The Hokies (16-4, 7-2 ACC) and Duke (15-6, 6-3) battled early in the opening frame until the Blue Devils took control with an 11-2 run to jump out to a 19-12 lead. Tech could not rally as Duke put the Hokies away in the set 25-17. The Hokies hit -.059 in the stanza to Duke’s .167 clip.

The second set opened in similar fashion as the first, with a competitive contest in the opening stages, until the Blue Devils gained some breathing room at 15-11. The Hokies would never catch up, dropping the period 25-20, and falling into a 2-0 hole going into the locker room.

Tech showed signs of life in the third set. Down 2-3, the Hokies scored 10 straight points, nine coming on sophomore Felicia Willoughby’s service, to take a 12-3 lead. Tech would use the energy to push the advantage to 20-13 and eventually captured the set 25-21.

The Hokies could not overcome Duke’s strong service though, as the Blue Devils scored eight straight points, seven on Duke’s Rachael Moss’s service, in the third set to leap out to an 8-2 advantage. The Hokies would only muster 11 more points in the frame, and the Blue Devils won the set 25-13, and the match 3-1.

“Their serve-receive was solid and ours wasn’t, and the game is serve and serve-receive,” Tech head coach Chris Riley said. “Between our receiving errors and our service errors we gave away 18 points, and you can’t do that against a good team, and they are a good team.

Tech, once again without middle blocker junior Betsy Horowitz for the third consecutive night due to a back injury, was out-blocked by Duke eight to six. The Blue Devils hit at a .193 clip, to the Hokies’ .104 hitting percentage, a season low.

Senior Kristen Cunningham was the only Hokie with double figure kills, racking up 11 on the night. Senior Sarah Munoz dug 18 attacks, while junior Jill Gergen and freshman Justine Record both tallied 16 digs. Willoughby led the team with five blocks.

The Hokies will look to rebound next weekend, as they continue the homestand with matches against Florida State on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and Miami on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. Results will be posted on hokiesports.com following the match.

“We have to heal, we have to get healthy in order for us to play at our highest level, so we will try to do that this week,” Riley said.

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

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