By Kevin Carroll — SPORTS EDITOR
For the first time in six years, Hofstra could not secure a victory in its first contest of the season, falling to the University of Virginia on Friday night.
The Pride fell 25-23, 25-17 and 25-20 to the Cavaliers in the first game of the Fairfield Inn and Suites Cavalier Classic.
Sophomore Laura Masciullo, who had a phenomenal debut season in 2016, led the Pride with 13 kills. Right behind her was one of Hofstra’s new faces, freshman Ivania Ortiz, who had seven kills in her frist game in the blue and gold.
In all, Ortiz attacked the net 23 times, second on the Pride only to Masciullo. The freshman did have six attack errors, however; Hofstra chalked up 22 attack errors in all on Friday night, nine more than Virginia.
Familiar names like Michela Rucli and Nanishka Perez, two offensive mainstays for the Pride last season, were held in check by the Cavaliers on Friday night.
Rucli, named to the All-CAA preseason squad last week, tallied five kills, while Perez was able to notch just two kills of her own.
Hofstra also made 10 service errors to just six from the Cavaliers, and the Pride’s hit percentage of .139 was well below Virginia’s .287 mark.
After a competitive first set in which the Pride hung neck-and-neck with Virginia all the way to the end, the second set was a bit more tilted in favor of the Cavaliers.
Hofstra hung tough in the third set for a while, but a five-point run turned the Cavs’ one-point lead into a 19-13 advantage that the Pride couldn’t overcome.
Luisa Sydlik, playing in her first season as Hofstra’s main setter after playing behind program great Hannah Klemm last year, shone brightly on the court with 30 assists and eight digs.
She was second on the team in the latter category behind only Caylie Denham, who had 11.
Virginia was led by Sarah Billiard, who had a match-high 14 kills. Kelsey Miller had 14 digs.
Hofstra will look to bounce back with a very quick turnaround, taking on Villanova University tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.
That won’t be it for the Pride on Saturday, as the team will wrap up the Cavalier Classic with a 4 p.m. contest against Liberty University.