BLACKSBURG, Va. – East Carolina handed Virginia Tech its first loss of the season Saturday, recording a 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 19-25, 26-24, 15-10) victory over the Hokies inside Cassell Coliseum to win the Virginia Tech Classic title.
The Pirates (9-2) continued their best start to a season since 2019, also picking up their first road victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference foe since knocking off NC State 3-2 back on Sept. 10, 2019. The win was the second against the ACC for head coach Adler Augustin and the first since ECU swept North Carolina in Greenville in the spring of 2021.
East Carolina finished the match with the edge in hitting percentage (.216 to .211) and total blocks (7.0 to 6.0) while the Hokies (10-1) had the upper hand in digs (83-69) and kills (62-60). The Pirates took charge in the fourth and fifth sets, hitting .250 and .444, and limiting Virginia Tech to .000 efficiency in the deciding frame.
Sophomore outside hitter Angeles Alderete put down a season-high 19 kills while just missing a double-double by adding nine digs. Senior setter Julianna Askew played all five sets and flirted with a triple-double, chipping in with 43 assists, 13 digs and six kills as well as a 1.000 hitting percentage. Senior right side Fran McBride was also a key cog in the win, notching a personal campaign-best 15 kills, five blocks and a .353 hitting mark. Along the back row, junior libero Lara Uyar posted a career-high 21 digs while registering nine perfect receptions.
Set One: Consecutive kills gave Virginia Tech a 9-5 lead in the opening set, prompting East Carolina to utilize an early timeout. The Pirates fought all the way back to within 19-18 following a block by McBride and Carlia Northcross, but the Hokies notched the next two points to establish a three-point cushion. ECU could come no closer as Virginia Tech seized the early match advantage.
Set Two: The second stanza was nip and tuck throughout as the Pirates grabbed a 15-14 lead at the media timeout thanks to a Hokie service error. The sides fought to a deadlock at 21 before East Carolina used consecutive Alderete kills to take control. Virginia Tech cut it to 23-22, but a kill by Farah Farooq and Alderete ace terminated the set and tied the match at one.
Set Three: The Pirates fell behind 9-5 early in the third but were able to dig deep and rattle of five straight points to collect a 10-9 edge. The Hokies answered with a run of their own and ended up pulling away to win the set by six and move in front 2-1 headed to the fourth.
Set Four: ECU bolted out to a 15-8 cushion in the fourth after a block by Farooq and McBride. However, Virginia Tech rallied and eventually drew within 18-17 after Pirate bad set. East Carolina rolled off three straight points to assume a four-point lead. The teams would eventually settle for a tie at 24 but kills by Northcross and Alderete allowed the Pirates to clinch the stanza and send things to the decider.
Set Five: An attacking error by the home side saw ECU propel ahead 3-1 before the Hokies tied things up with a quick two points. A Sierra Cates service error allowed the Pirates to grab an 8-7 advantage at the media timeout and the Purple and Gold would excel from there. Ava Francis deadlocked the score at eight with a kill, but a score by Brittany Wood sparked a 6-0 East Carolina run that gave the Pirates a handful of match points. Virginia Tech stayed alive twice, but Alderete slammed the door shut with her 19th and final kill.
Up Next: ECU opens American Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, Sept. 20, with a home match against Wichita State. First service is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.