The Villanova Wildcats were back in Jake Nevin this weekend to face Seton Hall and St. John’s. Villanova took down the Pirates on Friday in four sets, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, then beat the Red Storm on Saturday in a five-set thriller, 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-8.
Villanova came into the Seton Hall match having lost their last two games.
The first set was a back and forth with five lead changes. The set was tied at 10-10, before Villanova went on a 4-1 run to take a 14-11 lead thanks to kills by sophomore middle blocker Madeline Barber and freshman outside hitter Rose Crist. Villanova was able to pull away, despite a couple of service errors and take the set 25-22 with three kills in the last five points.
The second set was a lot different than the first one. Seton Hall came out on a 12-2 run and had the ‘Cats playing catch up for the rest of the set. Villanova did come back though, going on a 9-2 run of their own to bring the score to 14-11 thanks to three aces. In the third giant run of the set, Seton Hall went on a 7-3 run, and although Villanova continued to push back, the lead was too much to overcome, as Seton Hall was able to hang on and win 25-21.
The third set started back and forth again, until Villanova went on a 5-1 strike to make the score 12-8. After that run, Seton Hall and ‘Nova would trade points until the ‘Cats went on another 5-0 run, including three straight aces from junior setter Belle Morgan. This allowed them to coast to the finish and take home the third set, 25-20.
The fourth set was a series of 4-0 runs. ‘Nova went on one early in the set but was instantly brought back to the pack when Seton Hall had a run of their own, followed by yet another 4-0 run from the ‘Cats. Later in the set, ‘Nova led 23-19, but the Pirates went on a 4-0 run to tie the match. Villanova took the last two points of the set behind back-to-back kills from Crist and Homer to end the match 25-23, bringing the Wildcats’ record to 13-10.
Villanova was led by Homer with 15 kills and Morgan with 43 assists.
St. John’s came into the game 14-11, having lost five of their previous seven.
The first set was close the whole way, with scores even at three separate points in the set. Despite rarely holding a lead in the set, Villanova was the team that finished strong, winning 25-22.
St John's took control of the second set early. Attack errors cost the Wildcats towards the end of this one, and St John's Giorgia Walther was able to finish it off 25-21.
The third set was almost identical to the second set. St John's took an 11-6 lead early, and despite constant pressure from Villanova, never gave the lead back and finished the set 25-22.
The fourth set was the game changer, and a set that will be looked back on as a set that might’ve changed the course of Villanova’s season. St John’s came out firing, ready to put the match away, and went on an 8-0 run to lead 10-4. After trading points, the Red Storm led 18-10, but the ‘Cats refused to quit, going on a 9-6 run of their own to win.
In the fifth set, the Wildcats rode their momentum and capitalized on a clearly shocked Red Storm. Villanova put the set away with a 5-0 run behind a series of three kills from Homer and two aces from Salvador. A kill from Kathleen Johnson finished off an incredible come from behind victory, giving the ‘Cats a crucial Big East victory.
Homer led ‘Nova with 16 kills in the match.
Villanova improved to 14-10 on the season, 6-6 in Big East play, and now sit just a game behind Butler for the coveted fourth and final spot in the conference championships. The Wildcats go on the road next week to face 5-18 Georgetown and 17-7 UConn with an opportunity to capitalize on their newfound momentum.