In this week’s Olympic Sports Update, Virginia Tech women’s and men’s soccer are on a roll, while volleyball is still searching for its first ACC win.
After a season in which the No. 17 Virginia Tech women’s soccer team (8-2-2, 2-0-2 ACC) lost seven of its first nine ACC games, 2021 has offered a change of scenery, a change of direction and a change of results.
Tech has opened conference play like this: a 1-0 win over NC State, a 2-2 draw with then-No. 4 North Carolina and a 1-1 draw with then-No. 2 Duke. On Saturday, it continued that fantastic form, pulling out a 2-1 win on the road against Pitt, kick-started by senior midfielder Emily Gray’s brace.
Tech defender Allie Lewis was called for a foul in the box after tangling cleats with Pitt’s Athalie Palomo at the top of the box, giving her a game-tying penalty kick in the 63rd minute.
Locked in a tie with under 10 minutes remaining in the match, sophomore forward Tori Powell found Gray at the top of the box. Powell threaded her pass through three Panther defenders on its way to Gray, who beat Robinson one-on-one to complete her brace.
Could you thread a better match-winning ball here than @TorPowell?
— Virginia Tech Women's Soccer (@HokiesWSoccer) October 3, 2021
Gray was named ACC Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday. It marked the second time she’s received the honor (Oct. 2020), and she became the second Hokie to earn weekly honors this season after keeper Alia Skinner was named ACC Co-Defensive Player of the Week last week.
Through four ACC matches this year, VT has already matched its 2020 point total (12) in the conference standings. The Hokies, too, remain unbeaten in their past six matches, dating back to Sept. 9 when they pulled out a 5-1 win against Villanova at Thompson Field.
Virginia Tech continues its three-match ACC road swing on Thursday, Oct. 7, at Clemson. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on the ACC Network.
Long before the final buzzer sounded in Newton, Mass., the No. 9 Virginia Tech men’s soccer team (6-1-3, 2-1-1 ACC) had its opponent on the ropes. The team’s leading goal scorer, Jacob Labovitz, nearly netted two goals — one in each half — against Boston College, and junior forward Nick Blacklock nearly scored twice in extra time in a goalless draw on Friday night.
In the first period, midfielder Landon Ameres delivered a corner that found the head of Labovitz, but Boston College keeper Brennan Klein stretched out to push the shot away from the net.
And in the second half, Labovitz’s aggressiveness led to the forward flying past an Eagles’ defender, with a one-on-one with the keeper, but slotted the shot just wide of goal.
Blacklock twice laced shots from the edge of the box, but neither were able to send Tech back home with three crucial ACC points. Instead, the Hokies had to settle for a point in their fifth overtime match this fall.
But, as a silver-lining, VT keeper Ben Martino recorded his second-straight clean sheet after he held East Tennessee State scoreless five days before.
Even though it wasn’t the result the Hokies were looking for, they, like the women’s soccer team, haven’t lost since the second week of September (Sept. 11), when they were defeated by then-No. 19 Duke on the road. Since then, Tech is unbeaten in its last five matches, including Saturday’s draw with the Eagles.
The Hokies return to action against No. 14 Louisville on Friday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at Thompson Field in Blacksburg. The game will be televised on Regional Sports Networks (RSN).
It hasn’t been the prettiest start to Virginia Tech volleyball’s ACC schedule. After starting the season with nine non-conference wins in 12 tries, the Hokies (9-7, 0-4 ACC) have stumbled, fallen and can’t seem to get back on their feet since beginning conference play with a loss to Clemson on Sept. 24.
After it was swept by then-No. 18 Georgia Tech two days later, VT dropped two matches this past weekend. The first was in heart-breaking, comeback fashion to Boston College Friday night, while the second was in a sweep to Syracuse on Sunday.
After dropping the first set to Boston College, Tech stormed back, winning the next two sets 25-15 and 25-20. The fourth set was another battle with four lead changes, but the Eagles ultimately forced a fifth set.
From there, the Hokies crumbled, losing the final set 15-13.
On Sunday, Tech couldn’t get the bounce back performance it needed. Syracuse swept the Hokies out of New York and down I-81, still searching for their first conference win.
The first two sets were close battles until Syracuse pulled away to take both sets, 25-17. The third set was all Syracuse as the Orange jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back. The Hokies were within seven at 15-8 but were unable to rally, falling 25-13.
Virginia Tech returns to action this weekend as it takes on NC State on Friday at 7 p.m. and North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Hokies are on the road for both matchups, which are both televised on ACC Network Extra.