September 5, 2009
Tech wins VT Tournament in five-set thriller
Hokies move to 6-0 for the first time in school history
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Arkansas (4-3) 25232025132
Virginia Tech (6-0) 20252519153
  • Cassell Coliseum - 279

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech volleyball squad moved to 14-0 all-time under the helm of head coach Chris Riley against non-conference competition in Cassell Coliseum, as the Hokies defeated Arkansas in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 15-13) to capture the VT Tournament title Friday night.

Since Riley, who won his 200th career match earlier in the day against Norfolk State, took over in 2006, Tech (6-0, 0-0 ACC) has never lost to a non-conference opponent at home, and has won five regular-season tournament titles. With the win, the Hokies move to 6-0 for the first time in school history.

Arkansas (4-3, 0-0 SEC) did not make winning the tournament crown easy though, pushing Tech to five sets. Five Hokies tallied double-digit kills, led by senior Taylor Parrish with 15. Sophomore Justine Record registered her sixth career double-double, recording 12 kills and 15 digs. Junior Erin Leaser dished out 55 assists, while senior Betsy Horowitz and freshman Cara Baarendse blocked seven attacks each. Junior Felicia Willoughby, who received Most Valuable Player honors in the tournament, recorded 10 kills and six attacks in the affair.

The first frame set the pattern for the match as the two squads battled to five tie scores and three lead changes. The Razorbacks pushed out to a 15-12 cushion and maintained their distance for the duration of the period. A block by Arkansas’ Amanda Anderson and Kelli Stipanovich put the Hokies away in the opening stanza, 25-20.

Tech battled back in the second set though. After staying close early, a 6-0 run put the Hokies ahead in the set 14-8. The Razorbacks refused to go away, pulling within one five times in the latter half of the frame. At 24-23, the Hokies buried Arkansas behind an attack error by Stipanovich.

In set three the Hokies came out energized, jumping out to an early 10-4 advantage. Arkansas would never get closer than three points for the rest of the period and Tech took set three, 25-20.

The Razorbacks rallied in the fourth set though, racing out to an early lead themselves at 14-9. Tech cut the lead to three at 15-12 and again at 19-16, but could never close the gap any farther. A kill by Arkansas’ Kristin Seaton sealed the stanza for the Razorbacks, 25-19.

Both teams fought hard in the final set, as the two squads tied each other six times, but the Hokies maintained control most of the frame. Tied at 12, the Hokies won three of the next four points, capped by a ferocious kill by Willoughby, to capture the set 15-13, and the match, 3-2.

Tech hit at a .229 clip in the contest, and held their fifth consecutive opponent to under a .200 hitting percentage, as the Razorbacks struck at a .194 clip. The Hokies blocked 13 attacks as a team to Arkansas’ 10.5. Along with Willoughby, Parrish and Leaser also earned spots on the all-tournament team.

The Hokies put their unbeaten streak on the line next weekend at the American Tournament in Washington, D.C., where they will face NJIT, Yale and American. Tech will begin with NJIT at 5 p.m., on Friday. Results will be available on hokiesports.com.

VT All-Tournament Team
Felicia Willoughby, VT (MVP)
Erin Leaser, VT
Taylor Parrish, VT
Phoebe Bautista, Arkansas
Kristen Seaton, Arkansas
Hanna Fenker, East Carolina
Nicole Kessner, Norfolk State

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

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