August 29, 2009
Hokies torch Flames, win fourth-straight Hokie Invite
Parrish named Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational MVP
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Liberty (1-2) 2224180
Virginia Tech (3-0) 2526253
  • Cassell Coliseum - 716

BLACKSBURG, Va. – For the fourth season in a row, the Virginia Tech volleyball squad swept its home opening tournament, defeating Liberty 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-18) on Saturday night in Cassell Coliseum to capture the 2009 Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational crown.

With the victory, Tech head coach Chris Riley moves to 12-0 in the annual tournament and wins his fourth consecutive Hokie Invite crown. The Hokies have only lost 10 sets under Riley in the event.

“It feels good because we play in front of a great crowd. The people are fantastic for us,” Riley said. “It is a great environment, and we want to put on a good show. We want to be the team that is winning. These were three teams in the top half of the RPI, so this was very competitive and a very good win for us looking down the road.”

After struggling in the first set of the previous two matches, the Hokies (3-0, 0-0 ACC) battled again the opening frame against Liberty (1-2, 0-0 Big South). The two squads stayed within striking distance for much of the set, with no team gaining more than a three-point advantage. Tied at 22, Tech put together the longest run of the stanza reeling off three consecutive points, capped by senior Betsy Horowitz’s service ace, to win the first period 25-22.

Both teams continued the slugfest into the second set with no team gaining more than a three-point lead until the Hokies won three of four points to pull out to a 22-18 advantage. The Flames fought back though to even the match at 22. Tech and Liberty exchanged points until Tech went up 25-24. Riley called upon sophomore Kirsten Higareda, who had not played in the match up until that point, to serve. The Woodbridge, Va., native rocketed the service past the Flames’ defense for an ace to capture the second frame 26-24.

The Hokies controlled set three from the get-go. Tech doubled up Liberty at 10-5, and continued to pull away. A kill by Horowitz sealed the period, 25-18, and the match for the Hokies. Tech struck at a .342 clip in the third set, and held the Flames to a .085 hitting percentage.

Senior Taylor Parrish led the team for the third-straight match with 12 kills, and freshman Cara Baarendse added 10 of her own on a .562 hitting percentage. Horowitz tallied five blocks, while Parrish recorded four. Sophomore Erin Leaser earned 43 assists, for her third-consecutive match with more than 40 assists, while senior Jill Gergen and sophomore Justine Record recorded 17 and 11 digs, respectively. The Hokies hit .279 in the contest and limited Liberty to a .175 clip.

Tech defeated Montana 3-1 on Friday night, and beat UNC Greensboro 3-1 on Saturday afternoon to set up the clash with the Flames for the tournament title. Parrish was named the Hokie Invite MVP, while Baarendse and junior Felicia Willoughby both received all-tournament honors as well.

The Hokies return to Cassell Coliseum next weekend for another home tournament, the VT Tournament, where they will face East Carolina, Norfolk State and Arkansas. Tech will first take on East Carolina at 7 p.m., on Friday. Results will be available at hokiesports.com.

Hilton Garden Hokie Invite All-Tournament Team
MVP - Taylor Parrish, VT
Cara Baarendse, VT
Felicia Willoughby, VT
Stephanie Turner, Montana
Brittney Brown, Montana
Kallie Corbin, Liberty
Catherine Hanners, UNCG

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

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