August 28, 2009
Hokies open season with hard-fought win over Montana
Leaser earns eighth career double-double in match
Montana (0-1) 252323191
Virginia Tech (1-0) 192525253
  • Cassell Coliseum - 762

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech volleyball squad persevered over a tough Montana team on Friday night, defeating the Grizzlies 3-1 (19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19) in the opener of the Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational in Cassell Coliseum.

The Hokies (1-0, 0-0 ACC), who started two freshmen and three sophomores in the match, hit at a .275 clip, while holding Montana (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky) to a .214 hitting percentage in the victory. The match swayed Tech’s way as the Hokies’ block got stronger, out-blocking the Grizzlies eight to four over the final three sets to capture the contest.

“I think we came out a little shaky, with a lot of first-timers and even the sophomores are not seasoned yet,” Tech head coach Chris Riley said. “We weren’t playing quite as crisp as we can, but we played tough and we are fighters. We came out with a tougher mentality tonight.”

Tech struggled throughout set one, falling to an early 7-1 deficit. A 9-5 run helped Tech close to within two at 12-10, but the Hokies could get no closer, as Montana pushed the lead back out to six at 16-10, and eventually took the stanza 25-19. The Grizzlies tallied three blocks in the frame, while the Hokies managed none.

Set two proved to be a back-and-forth affair with 15 ties and six lead changes. Even at 20, the Grizzlies capitalized on two straight setting errors by sophomore Erin Leaser to extend out to a 22-20 advantage. The Hokies battled back though, rallying to tie the set at 23. An attack error by Montana and a powerful kill junior Felicia Willoughby sealed the period 25-23 for the Hokies.

The Grizzlies took control of the third set early, jumping out to a 15-10 lead and eventually earning their largest advantage of the frame at 18-11, but the Hokies proved resilient. Tech chipped away at the lead with an 11-4 run and tied the stanza at 22. The Hokies won three of the next four points to earn a second-straight 25-23 set victory.

Montana again raced out to a lead in the fourth period at 10-7, but a 4-1 Hokie run squared the set at 11 apiece. They followed that with an 8-2 push to press out to a 19-13 advantage, putting a stranglehold on the match. A kill by senior Taylor Parrish, her team-high 19th of the match, finished the Grizzlies in set four, 25-19, and in the match.

Two other Hokies recorded double-digit kills along with Parrish on the night. Willoughby added 14 kills and four blocks, while freshman Justine Record registered 10 kills and three blocks in the contest. Leaser dished out 48 assists and dug 11 attacks for the eighth double-double of her career. Senior Jill Gergen totaled a team-high 14 digs, while freshman Morgan O’Neill, playing in her first collegiate match, earned 10 digs.

The Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational continues tomorrow, beginning with a matchup between Montana and Liberty at 10 a.m. Tech will face UNC Greensboro, who fell 3-0 to Liberty earlier in the evening, at noon and Liberty at 7 p.m. UNC Greensboro takes on Montana at 5 p.m. Live results will be available on for all four matches on Saturday.

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

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