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No. 8 Virginia Tech Battles Off North Carolina, Propels to a 74-62 Win

By Zachary Ozmon | February 25
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The lights were bright but the Hokies handled business in Cassell Coliseum (Zachary Ozmon)

Although the story of the 2023–2024 season has yet to culminate for Kenny Brooks and Co., today may have been the single most important and impactful day in Virginia Tech women's basketball history.

No. 8 Virginia Tech (23-4, 14-2 ACC) held off North Carolina (18-10, 10-6 ACC) Sunday afternoon for their 25th straight win in Cassell Coliseum, defeating the Tar Heels with a sound 74-62 victory.

“What a day for not only Virginia Tech women’s basketball, but Virginia Tech in general," said head coach Kenny Brooks. "It was a great showing for our school. Hokie Nation represented itself and was out in full force. Their passion is so strong for the Hokies.”

The spotlight was ornamented for this one as the College Gameday crew came to Blacksburg for the highly anticipated ACC matchup. The all-star cast, including Elle Duncan, Andraya Carter, Carolyn Peck, Chiney Ogwumike, and Kelly Gramlich, put on a show for Hokie Nation as students and members of the community alike showed out for the team in full force.

“It was unimaginable to think that gameday was going to be here with 6,000 people and sell out on senior night," said Brooks. “It wasn’t a quiet crowd, not just friends and family; it was a hot ticket. They were loud, and they were proud."

Not only was College Gameday in town, but it was a sold-out senior day for Cayla King, Georgia Amoore, Olivia Summiel, and Elizabeth Kitley.

“I’m very happy for these kids and everyone involved,” said Brooks. “It takes a lot of people to get this program to where it is, and everyone's belief has really gotten us here, so a tremendous day.”

The electric environment during the game spoke volumes to what Kenny Brooks, his staff, and his players have built in Blacksburg. It may have seemed like it could have been scripted, but that can just be accredited to some Hokie magic this team has brought to Blacksburg.

“I don’t know who wrote the script, but it was pretty doggone good,” said Brooks. “If you sold that to Disney, I don’t know if they’d buy it; they would probably say it's too much over the top.”

The Hokies were hooping to open the contest, seizing a 21-5 lead in the first quarter. Virginia Tech set the tone early and stuck with that mantra for the rest of the meeting.

While the Tar Heels tried to play upset on senior night, as they managed to scrape the Hokies outclass to within five points, the good ole’ Kitley and Amoore duo proved to be lethal.

In just another walk in the park for Kitley, she had yet another dominating performance, being the focal point of much of the Hokies offense in the first half. She ended the game with 34 points and six rebounds, a total that may be astounding for others but is just regularity for the two-time ACC player of the year.

“We’ve grown accustomed to Liz performing," said Brooks. “We are just like, yeah, ok, but that just shows how great she is and what she was able to do.”

With this being her last regular-season game at Cassell Coliseum, Kitley reflected on her time here at Virginia Tech.

“I’m like a completely different player from when I got here,” said Kitley. “That’s because of Coach Brooks and what he did with me.

“I’ve also just matured a lot. I was 17 years old when I got to Blacksburg, and I’m going to leave here as a 22-year-old who's a lot more confident and has a lot more abilities. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the people here. I’m very grateful for that.”

The other Queen of Cassell, Georgia Amoore, while sitting much of the first half due to foul trouble, came out of the half firing and racked up 14 of her 19 points in the third quarter. She also finished with 11 assists and set the all-time VT record for total assists with 636.

Amoore find Kitley to place herself in the VT record books. (Zachary Ozmon)

“I’m doing my job, and they’re hitting shots, and I love it," said Amoore. “They hit shots; I can’t get an assist if they miss. She [Kitley] doesn’t miss very much.”

Another senior that got into the mix in this match was Olivia Summiel, who supplied 14 rebounds in 22 minutes. After not attending her official senior day last year at Wake Forest due to an illness, she finally got to smell the roses in this one, and Kenny Brooks made sure she got the love she truly deserves.

“She’s the reason Liz doesn’t have more double-doubles,” said Brooks. “She had a Dennis Rodman-type performance today; she adds an element that we really need. The way that we welcomed her in and the way she has really fit right in—it's exactly what we needed.

“I’m really glad she found her way, and she's producing at a level that's really helping us to become who we are."

Today truly shows the impact of the fanbase and how they came out to each and every home game for this sort of Last Dance for the players that have spent so much of their lives here.

“We don’t get here if Hokie Nation is not behind us like they are," said Kenny Brooks.

It’s good for the game, it’s good for the players, and everyone comes out on top when moments like today happen for the game of women's basketball. Coach Brooks stated that to a tee.

“I’m very happy for these kids and everyone involved,” said Brooks. "It takes a lot of people to get this program to where it is, and everyone's belief has really gotten us here, so a tremendous day.”

While today might have seemed like the grand ending of this marvelous season as the Hokies clinched a double-bye in the ACC tournament and a share of the regular season title, there are still two games to go in the regular season for this squad and many more postseason games to come.

“It's a long haul to be the regular season champs, at least, but it means a lot,” said Brooks. “They brought the trophy here... We’re not touching it.”

The Hokies look to snatch their 11th straight win as they take on No. 19 Notre Dame (21-6, 11-5) this Thursday in Purcell Pavilion. That game will tip off at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

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Born in Chesapeake and raised into a family of hokies, Virginia Tech is where I call home now. Attended New River Community College as a freshman and now a sophomore at VT as a transfer student in Fall 2022. Majoring in Sports Media and Analytics, I’m excited for what’s to come for me as a student at VT.

Virginia Tech sports has always been something I have been a fan of. From afternoons in Lane Stadium to nights in Cassell Coliseum, I have loved every second of it no matter the outcome.

One of my first memories of being a Tech fan was our upset win against Ohio State 35-21 where CB Donovan Riley had the game sealing pick-6. More recently, beating UNC in 6 overtimes, our run to the sweet 16, and of course winning the men’s basketball ACC Championship with upsets over UNC and Duke.

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