WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Facing defeat, Virginia Commonwealth University turned to its forte in the nick of time.
The Rams staved off elimination with three key blocks in the fourth set before marching to a dramatic 3-2 (18-25, 25-21, 15-25, 26-24, 15-12) victory over Wake Forest Tuesday night at Reynolds Gymnasium.
VCU improved to 12-15 with the win, while Wake Forest is 5-18.
Wake Forest led the match 2-1 and was on the verge of clinching when it grabbed a 24-22 lead in the fourth set. Bu after a service error pulled the Rams within 24-23, senior Courtney Hott (Fredericksburg, Va.) and freshman Cecilia Aragao (Recife, Brazil) rose up and blocked the Demon Deacon's Kadija Fornah on back-to-back plays. On the ensuing rally, Wake Forest set Carlin Simon, only to watch Hott and junior Kristin Boyd (Wilmington, N.C.) block her at the net to give VCU the 26-24 win.
Riding the momentum of their fourth set victory, the Rams never trailed in the tiebreaking fifth on the way to a 15-12 triumph. VCU hit .238 in the tiebreaker, compared to Wake's .062.
The Rams also closed the second set with a 19-9 blitz after falling behind 12-6. Their 25-21 victory in that set tied the match at 1-1.
Junior Anett Farkas (Budapest, Hungary) provided offensive punch for the Rams with 13 kills, including eight in the final two sets. Farkas blasted three kills in five swings in the decisive fifth set.
Hott supplied 12 kills, seven blocks and hit .346 for the Black and Gold. Senior Jessica Ojukwu (Sao Paulo, Brazil) added 10 kills and 10 digs, while Aragao kicked in 45 assists, 11 digs and three blocks. Boyd struggled early, but provided four critical kills in the final two sets for the Rams. She finished with nine kills and six blocks.
The Rams had five blocks through three sets, but recorded eight rejections in the final two. VCU hit .228 for the match.
Andrea Beck led all players with 26 kills and hit .561 for the Demon Deacons. Carlin Salmon and Fornah had 16 kills apiece for Wake Forest.
VCU will return to the friendly confines of the Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday, Nov. 4 when it hosts UNC Wilmington at 7 p.m. in a pivotal CAA contest. The Rams are currently fighting to secure one of the final conference tournament berths.