November 8, 2009
Tech drops five-set heartbreaker to UNC
Willoughby sets career high with 13 blocks
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Virginia Tech (17-9) 25232520102
North Carolina (14-12) 18251825153
  • Dean E. Smith Center - 621

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Virginia Tech volleyball squad put together a strong effort, but fell to North Carolina, 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 20-25, 10-25), Sunday afternoon at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Sunday’s match marked the third time in previous four matches Tech (17-9, 7-8 ACC) and North Carolina (14-12, 10-5 ACC) battled to five sets. The Hokies won earlier this year in Cassell Coliseum, and suffered a similar heartbreak against the Heels at Chapel Hill on Oct. 9, 2008. Tech more than doubled the Heels up in blocks on Sunday, recording 15.5 and holding North Carolina to seven, as well as out-hit North Carolina .232 to .184.

Junior Felicia Willoughby blocked a career-high 13 attacks, and added 14 kills in 29 attempts in the affair, for her first double-double of the year. Sophomores Justine Record and Erin Leaser also notched their seventh and sixth double-doubles, respectively, in the effort. Record led the team with 17 kills and tied a career-high with 16 digs, while Leaser tallied 56 assists and 12 digs on the afternoon. Freshman Cara Baarendse recorded 14 kills as well.

In addition to Record and Leaser, three other Hokies mustered double-digit digs in the contest. Senior Jill Gergen led the way with 21, freshman Morgan O’Neill registered 13 and junior Amy Wengrenovich earned 10.

Both squads went back and forth early in the opening set. Up 10-9, the Hokies’ offense exploded on a 7-0 run, six points coming on senior Jill Gergen’s service, to open up a comfortable cushion. The Tar Heels never recoverd as Tech ran away with the first stanza, 25-18.

Set two started and ended close. North Carolina jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, but the Hokies reeled off three straight points to tie the match. From that point on, the two squads tied each other 14 times, and neither team gained more than a two-point advantage for the rest of the period. A Record service ace gave Tech a 23-22 lead, but the Tar Heels won the next two points on a Record service error and an attack error by freshman Jennifer Wiker. The Hokies tried to squash the North Carolina momentum with a time out, but the Heels won the next point on an Emily McGee kill to capture the second set, 25-23.

After another close duel early, Tech used a 3-0 run to earn some breathing room 17-14 in the third set. North Carolina closed within two at 19-17, but a 4-0 run by the Hokies all but buried the Tar Heels. Tech won two of the next three points to down North Carolina in the third frame, 25-18.

A quick 6-2 spurt helped the Tar Heels to an early edge in the fourth set, and they maintained the lead for the duration of the period. Down 23-13 the Hokies rallied, winning seven of the next eight points, but could not cut the gap anymore as the Heels took the fourth stanza, 25-20.

Tied at 3-3 in the final set, North Carolina won three points in a row to take the lead, but Tech battled back to even the set up a 6-6. Another run put the Tar Heels back in the driver’s seat though, pulling out to a 10-6 advantage, and the Hokies could not respond with a run over their own. North Carolina carried the lead to a 15-10 victory, and won the match, 3-2.

Tech will return home to Cassell Coliseum next weekend. The Hokies host Duke on Friday at 5 p.m., and Wake Forest on Saturday at 5 p.m. Results will be available on hokiesports.com.

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

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