Wake Forest women’s volleyball 11-10 (1-9) continued what has been a terrible calendar month of ACC play. Nearly four weeks have passed since the last Deacon victory, a 3-1 win over Syracuse on Oct. 4. Wake Forest has since lost seven consecutive matches, with the last two coming against Duke 10-13 (3-7) and Virginia Tech 9-14 (2-8).
The Deacons first travelled to Cameron Indoor Stadium last Wednesday to face a Blue Devils squad on a losing streak of their own, having lost four straight matches to ACC opponents. Duke turned their fortunes around quickly against Wake Forest to take a 3-0 victory 25-14, 25-17, 25-22.
The Blue Devils pounced early in the first set, recording four kills and forcing two attack errors to take a 6-2 lead. From then on, Duke never relinquished the lead and the deficit never dipped below four points, as the Blue Devils took the game 25-14. Wake Forest battled harder in the second set, fighting Duke to a 12-12 tie. The Blue Devils then shifted to another gear, ripping off a 13-4 run on the strength of eight kills to win the set 25-17.
Duke dominated statistically throughout the first two sets, forcing the Deacons to record nearly as many errors (13) as kills (16). Conversely, the Blue Devils hammered home 28 kills against only 11 errors for a 25% hitting rate.
The Deacons played their best volleyball in the third and final set. The two teams fought tooth and nail all game, with Wake Forest even holding a slim lead at 15-14. Duke rallied to score six of the next seven points thanks to five kills to take a 20-16 lead. The Deacons weathered the storm and posted a run of their own, outscoring the Blue Devils 5-3 to bring the game to a 23-21 margin. Duke subsequently slammed the door shut on a Deacon comeback, as a Deacon service error and a kill by senior outside hitter Samantha Amos secured the set 25-22.
Wake Forest then played a much closer five-set affair against Virginia Tech on Sunday, but lost 25-20, 25-15, 17-25, 23-25, 15-11. The first two sets closely resembled the Duke match, as the Hokies dominated play early on. Virginia Tech outscored Wake Forest 50-35, recorded eight more kills, committed only seven errors and seemed to be cruising towards an easy three-set victory.
The Deacons then turned the tables on the Hokies in a convincing fashion, posting 31 kills against only eight errors in the third and fourth sets for a 29% hitting rate. A huge 8-0 run in the middle of the set, spearheaded by two kills from senior outside hitter Caroline Rassenfoss, increased the lead from 14-11 to 22-11. Wake Forest then held off the Hokies to win the third set 25-17.
The fourth set was the tightest of the match, as the two teams played each other evenly all the way until the very end. Clutch kills from sophomore middle blocker Michelle Polechonski and senior middle blocker Caitlyn Della broke a 23-23 stalemate, and the Deacons won the game 25-23.
The Hokies sprinted out of the gate in the fifth and final set to take an early 5-1 lead. The Deacons fought back to a one-point deficit at 10-9, but Virginia Tech made one last push to take the final set 15-11.
Freshman outside hitter Peyton Suess led the charge for Wake Forest in the losing effort, recording team highs in kills (15) and aces (3) to continue what has been a stellar first season for her. Suess has posted the seventh-most kills (239) and sixth-most total points (283) among ACC players on the season. Junior middle blocker Marisa Cerchio led the Hokies with 14 kills.
Wake Forest will travel to Pittsburgh on Friday to play Pittsburgh 21-1 (10-0), the best team in the ACC and the second-best team in the nation. They will then face off against the ACC’s worst team, as they travel to Charlottesville to play Virginia 9-14 (1-9) on Sunday.