What was a promising 9–3 start to the season going into conference play, the Virginia Tech volleyball team’s season is now in purgatory as the team is 9–11. The team has lost all its ACC matchups thus far and is on a nine-game losing streak. Within this losing streak, the Hokies have only won two sets, both against the Boston College Eagles on Oct. 1. They have been swept by all other ACC teams, including the sub-.500 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. As much as the Hokies have been struggling, a question remains: When and where did this start? The issue dates back to the Hokies’ last non-conference match against North Carolina A&T.
In their last conference game against the Aggies, the Hokies were up 2–0 with victory on the horizon, but they were unable to seal the deal, allowing the opposing team to come back and win the game 3–2. As difficult as losing can be, the loss hurt more, as the Hokies lost on their home court. This matchup seemed to set the tone for things to come.
Tech’s matchups against Clemson, Boston College, and, surprisingly, No. 2 Louisville played competitive games. Even though Tech got swept by Clemson and Louisville, the box score would show the match was much closer as Virginia Tech pushed Louisville, with the biggest point difference in the set being five points. However, in most of its other games, the team looked out of sync.
The Hokies are currently in the bottom half of the ACC for most statistical categories except for blocks, opponents’ blocks and opponent hitting percentage.
Another glaring issue with the team is its attack. Attacking errors have been plaguing this team and its chances to win. The Hokies’ four worst hitting percentages during the season so far have been against ACC teams, while only one of its top 10 hitting percentages have come during the conference play.
Senior Marisa Cerchio and graduate student Griere Hughes are the two leaders in kills for the Hokies, Hughes with 183 and Cerchio with 143. Unfortunately, the two have not been the most accurate. Cerchio had a career high in hitting percentage last season with .311 but is currently looking at .202, the second lowest percentage in her career. Hughes is currently attacking at .133 while having played in 19 of 20 matches. Though the two ladies have been struggling, there is enough season left for them to get back on track. On a positive note, senior Angel Robinson is in the top 150 players in the country in hitting percentage with .341 and also leads the Hokies in the category.
The team’s defense gets overshadowed by its struggling offense, as the Hokies lead the ACC in total blocks and the second-most in total digs. Junior Logan Mosley leads the Hokies in digs with 306, the second-most in the ACC behind Anna Murphy of Boston College with 312. Mosley also just eclipsed 1000 digs in the 3–0 against Louisville on Oct. 15; she is the nineteenth player in Virginia Tech volleyball history to do so. In the front of the court, graduate student Tasha Vipond averages 1.22 blocks per set and is sixth in the ACC. Robinson leads the Hokies in total blocks with 80.
As bad as the past few weeks have been for Virginia Tech volleyball, its season is not a completely lost cause. There are 10 games left in the season, which are 10 more opportunities to win. The Hokies’ next two matches will be against the Florida State Seminoles (12–5, 5–3 ACC) and the Miami Hurricanes (15–3, 6– 2 ACC), two formidable opponents. After those two games, the Hokies can steal a win against their in-state rivals the Virginia Cavaliers (8–10, 1–7 ACC), who are currently the second-worst team in the ACC.
Opportunities can and will arrive for this team once it gets back to attacking with the same intensity and accuracy it had in the non-conference section of the season. The team has the talent and has shown that potential; it is just time for them to tap back into it, hopefully sooner rather than later.