Hokies win Pepsi Panther Invitational

Virginia Tech (3-0) 23251825153
Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-2) 25232521102
  • Klotsche Center - 419

MILWAUKEE – In the final match of the Pepsi Panther Invitational, Virginia Tech Volleyball claimed a 3-2 victory over Milwaukee on its home court at the Klotsche Center to claim the tournament title led by tournament MVP Rhegan Mitchell.

Mitchell, who posted 152 assists in three matches, was joined by senior Stacey Christy and freshman Kaity Smith on the All-Tournament Team.

Christy showed consistency in all of the matches tallying 29 kills and hitting .462, while posting nine blocks in the three contests. Smith had arguably the best debut in school history on Friday as the rookie posted 30 kills, becoming only the second freshman to do so and the third Hokie ever to accomplish the feat.

The 3-0 start to the season for the Hokies marks the second-straight year Tech has started the year off on the right foot opening weekend. The Panthers fall to 1-2 on the season.

Milwaukee made quite the comeback in set one as the Panthers trailed 21-16, before going on a 9-2 run to claim the opening set 25-23.

The Hokies got hot in set two, jumping out to a 6-2 advantage. Tech would use the early going lead to its benefit, going up 20-14, though, the Panthers clawed back to exchange eight ties in the frame, it was not enough, losing 25-23.

For the first time in the match, the Panthers held an advantage over three points when Caitlin Schultz earned a kill to push UWM’s lead to 13-9. Tech cut into the lead following Schultz’s kill, making it 15-18, but Milwaukee went on a 7-2 run to gain the overall lead, 2-1, through three sets.

Set four was back and forth through the first 20 points as neither team led by more than two. It wasn’t until it was deadlocked 20-20 when Tech went on a roll behind Jaila Tolbert, Christy and Kelly Esch each chipping in a kill to win 25-21, forcing a fifth set.

Tech, similar to the opening set, came out of the gate on fire rattling off a 9-3 lead in the final frame before UWM used a timeout. The Panthers would cut the deficit to three at 9-6, but the Hokies never squandered the lead winning 15-10 and the 2017 Pepsi Panther Invitational.


- Three Hokies posted 10-plus kills in Smith (20), Christy (13) and Tolbert (13). Christy, who set her new career-high on Friday against Idaho State with 11, set a new personal record on Saturday. The redshirt senior also set a new career-best in blocks (6).

- Mitchell, who took MVP honors at the Pepsi Panther Invitational, not only got it done setting the volleyball but also tallied 14 digs at the setter position. The 14 digs were the second-most in her storied career, only behind the 15 she dug against Clemson on Oct. 16, 2015.

- When it mattered most, in the fifth set, the Hokies defense came to play holding the Panthers to a .050 hitting clip.

- Sophomore Carol Raffety tallied a new career high in assists with seven, topping her previous mark of five against Clemson on Sept. 23, 2016. The California native also recorded 14 digs, adding to her season total to 41.


It was a block party on Saturday as the Hokies racked up 18 stops at the net, marking the first time Tech has done so since it tallied 18 against Virginia on Sept. 30, 2016. Four players had four blocks or more – Cara Cunningham (5), Christy (6), Ester Talamazzi (4) and Tolbert (4).



“It was a good weekend for many different reasons. The first weekend is the first matches for everybody, so the fact that we were able to win two very tight five-setters against some tough teams was a very good experience for our team.”

“We were able to put some people in different roles, which really helps us, but we need to get back to the gym on Monday and clean up some of our discipline to prepare for next weekend.”


The Hokies will be on the road again next weekend, this time in the state of Arkansas. Tech plays against Arkansas State, Ole Miss and RV SMU on Sept. 1-2 in Jonesboro.


Rhegan Mitchell - Virginia Tech - MVP
Kaity Smith - Virginia Tech
Stacey Christy - Virginia Tech
Jess Kalous - Milwaukee
Bridget Wallenberger - Milwaukee
Chloe Hirst - Idaho State
Sierra Peterson - South Dakota State

For updates on Virginia Tech volleyball, follow the Hokies on Twitter and on Instagram @vthokievolleyball Instagram

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