BLACKSBURG, Va. – In the true dramatic fashion of Senior Night, the Virginia Tech volleyball team rallied from two down to take a 3-2 (22-25, 24-26, 25-21, 26-24, 15-11) win over the NC State Wolfpack in Cassell Coliseum Saturday evening. The Hokies honored the team's five seniors Kirsty Blue, Kirsten Higareda, Erin Leaser, Kelsey Maloney and Justine Record, before they embarked on their ninth five-set match of the year for Tech and the team’s sixth victory when going the distance.
Leaser notched her fourth double-double of the season as she tossed up 52 assists and added 12 digs in her final home match, while Jennifer Wiker paced the offense with 19 kills. Dariyan Hopper led the NC State offense with 19 kills in the match as well.
Setting the theme for the night, close play began the opening set, with the Hokies (17-13, 10-9 ACC) holding the slight lead early on. NC State (10-12, 8-11 ACC) would not back down and continued to hang around. After tying things up on three difference occasions, the Wolfpack finally took a late lead and were able to hang on to close out the set, 25-22. Wiker and Hopper each threw down six kills in the opener, as NC State saw the advantage, 16-12.
Similar to the first set, Tech opened play with an early lead, but after numerous ties, the Wolfpack finally forced the only lead change of the set, as they broke a 21-all tie. NC State reached match point, but the Hokies fought back late and evened things up again at 24. The rally would end there, though, as NC State came up with the next two points to take the 26-24 victory into the break. The Wolfpack again held the kills advantage, 15-11, but Tech took the edge at the net with four blocks, compared to State’s two.
The Hokies returned from the brief intermission with a vengeance and for the third time jumped out to an early lead. Despite NC State battling back to tie it early, Tech continued full speed ahead, extending its lead to as many as six points on multiple occasions. NC State attempted to make a late run but the Hokies shut it down and took the set, 25-21. Tech dominated the net in the third set with seven total blocks, which helped hold the Wolfpack to a .043 hitting percentage. The Hokies hit at a .250 clip in the set, leading in kills for the first time, 14-12.
With their backs against the wall, the Hokies continued to fight under pressure. In a set that saw 17 ties and nine lead changes, neither team was able to establish any kind of momentum as it was a back-and forth battle throughout. Tying things up at 21, 22, 23 and 24, Tech came out of the set victorious, stringing together two straight points to force a fifth set with a 26-24 win of its own. Hamsher spearheaded the offense in the fourth with six kills as Tech took the advantage, 19-14.
Tech carried its energy into the deciding set and went up 4-1 to begin play. NC State pushed back and made it 5-4 but the Hokies wouldn’t allow their opponent to get any closer. Rallying for a 6-1 run midway through the set, Tech continued to inch closer to victory. NC State strung together a short run of its own but a key timeout by the Hokies halted the Wolfpack and helped Tech to a 15-11 victory. The Hokies held State to a .091 hitting percentage, while hitting at a .333 clip themselves.
Victoria Hamsher matched her career high with 16 kills in the match and neared another as she got up for eight blocks. Laura Misiewicz paced the defense with 21 digs, while Record wasn’t far behind with 20. Kathryn Caine set a new career high at the net with eight blocks in the outing, helping the team set a new season high with 19 total blocks in the match.
Luciana Shafer threw down 12 kills for the Wolfpack, while Margaret Salata and Brie Merriwether added 10 apiece. Megan Cyr handled the setting and tallied 51 assists on the night. Kelly Wood led the defense with 30 digs, while Merriwether and Rachel Buckley helped NC State to 14 blocks with eight each.
The Hokies saw the slight kills edge, 65-64, but NC State took the lead on defense with 85 digs, compared to Tech’s 79.
Tech will wrap up the regular season on Friday Nov. 25 as it travels to Charlottesville, Va., to take on the Cavaliers at 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech volleyball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_VBall).