Volleyball Falls In Two Big East Matches

The Villanova women’s volleyball team’s playoff chances were dealt a crucial blow last week, as the team dropped consecutive road games, falling Wednesday to Georgetown in five sets, before being swept by UConn on Saturday. With four games to play, the Wildcats’ record stands at 14-12, just 6-8 in conference play.

On Wednesday, Georgetown had control over the Wildcats during the first set, as the Hoyas led the entire set. When the Hoyas were up 16-12, they went on a 4-0 run that gave them an eight point advantage, their largest of the game. The Wildcats came back and cut the deficit to 23-20, but the Hoyas clinched the last two points to win the set. 

During the second set, the Wildcats fought back. With the score close at 18-16, the Wildcats scored three consecutive points, paving the way for sophomore middle blocker Kiera Booth to capture the final four points for the Wildcats, giving her team the second set. At the end of the first two sets, Booth had collected nine out of her 19 kills of the game, a career-high for her. 

The third set went to the Hoyas, although it was close for much of the set. The Hoyas seized momentum with a 3-0 run to make it 23-17, and closed out the set and won, 25-21. 

The fourth set was neck and neck up until the very end, when the two sides were tied at 21. The Wildcats were able to go on a 3-0 run to make it 24-21, but the Hoyas fought off the Wildcats with two points of their own. However, sophomore outside hitter Riley Homer had a kill for the final point, forcing a decisive final set. 

However, this momentum did not carry over into the fifth set. The Hoyas went on an early 4-0 run and the Wildcats never caught up, as Georgetown won the set and the match, 15-11. The win was just Georgetown’s second in Big East play.

“You can’t overlook anyone in this league,” coach John Steinbach said before the game. “We lost to Providence early on, and you can’t just say that we are good enough to beat this team by just showing up. You know it’s a one-match-at-a-time focus and just worry about this next one right away.”

On Saturday, Villanova faced 18-7 UConn, but the Wildcats were swept by the Huskies in three straight sets. 

“They’re very good and you know they’re playing at a high level,” Steinbach said before the game. “They’re experienced, they’ve got three or four seniors and two are graduate students. They're playing confidently, so that’s going to be a tough match.”

Steinbach’s sentiments were quickly proven correct as the Huskies dominated the first set, winning, 25-14. The set was close at first, as UConn led just 7-6, but the Huskies went on a 6-1 run and the Wildcats could not catch up. In just the first set, Caylee Parker had seven kills for UConn. 

The Wildcats tried to gain some momentum in the second set and started strong, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. The Huskies quickly refocused, taking an 11-6 lead, but the Wildcats were able to cut the lead to 11-9 with three straight points, including a kill from Homer. Despite the Huskies winning back-to-back points, the Wildcats went on a 3-0 run that cut the score to 13-12 with kills from junior middle/right side Kathleen Johnson and sophomore setter Andrea Campos. However, the Huskies answered quickly with a 6-0 run to take a commanding 24-15 lead, winning the set, 25-16. 

In the third set, the Wildcats took a 6-4 lead behind another kill by Booth. However, the Huskies responded with a 7-0 streak as Jasmine Davis had a pair of kills. The Wildcats still battled until the end, taking the lead three times in the set. Campos had a service ace to put Villanova ahead 21-20, but the Huskies finished the match on a 5-2 run to send the Wildcats home empty-handed. 

The Wildcats play at home twice next weekend, facing Providence on Friday and Creighton on Saturday. The Wildcats were swept in three sets by both teams earlier this season, but the Friars have won just three times in Big East play. Both matches will take place at 7 p.m. in Jake Nevin Field House.