VBALL: ‘Cats lose to Pitt, crush West Virginia

Jamie Augustinsky

The volleyball team opened up Big East action this weekend with home matches against Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The team was coming off a perfect Villanova Classic, where it swept all three teams it played, and was looking to extend its winning streak to five matches. Though the ‘Cats fought hard against Pittsburgh, they lost in a five-set match on Sept. 27. The next day, the team rebounded and swept West Virginia University 3-0.

Big East competition was in full swing when Villanova went to five sets for only the second time this season. Although the team won the first two sets of the match, the Panthers took the last three as Villanova fell 3-2. In the first set, the Wildcats never trailed and pulled to a 15-10 lead. The Panthers came within one point at 18-17, but a kill by senior Dana Tartazky pushed the ‘Cats’ lead to 20-17. The team closed out the set with five straight points to take the 25-19 win. Though Pitt led early in the second set, the ‘Nova offense led two runs of 10-3 and 5-3. Junior Amy Gulyas served three straight points, and Tartazky sealed the 25-15 win with a kill. The third set was a close one, knotted up early at 8-8. Pitt pulled ahead 13-9, and its 6-2 run put the game away for the Panthers as the Wildcats lost 25-16. Villanova fell behind early in the fourth set. Three kills by Tartazky pulled the ‘Cats within seven, but consecutive service aces by the Panthers gave them the 25-15 victory. The deciding frame was close throughout, beginning with four early ties. The teams traded points back and forth, but Pittsburgh eventually took the set, 15-11, and the match with a 3-2 victory.

Tartazky gained her third double -double of the season, notching 19 kills and 16 digs in the match. The freshmen duo of Maggie Mergen and Morgan Petkovich has 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Junior Chelsea Graman dished out a match-high 43 assists.

The ‘Cats came in to Sunday’s match against West Virginia ready to rebound from the previous afternoon’s loss. In the first set, the team came out to an early lead with a 6-3 run. The Mountaineers came within three points, but a kill by junior Elysse Studzinski and a WVU error gave VU the 25-20 win. The ‘Cats trailed 10-8 in the second frame, but an offensive run of 8-1 gave them a 16-11 lead. The Mountaineers threatened with four consecutive points, but committed an error in the final play which gave ‘Nova the 25-18 win. The Wildcats had a 10-5 lead in the third set and further extended that lead with a 9-1 run. Though the Mountaineers scored four consecutive points near the end of the set, Villanova held on to complete a 25-18 victory and a 3-0 match sweep.

Mergen had 13 kills and hit at .545. But she wasn’t the only ‘Cat with an outstanding hitting percentage. Tartazky, Studzinski, and Gulyas hit at .421, .500, and .429 rspectively. Freshman and last week’s MVP of the Villanova Classic Kim Maroon set a new career-high in digs with 23, while Graman again led the team in assists, pitching in with 36. The Wildcats as a whole only committed seven errors and finished with a strong .404 attack percentage, holding West Virginia to a mere .170.

The weekend split put the team’s record at 9-6, 1-1 in Big East play. The Wildcats will look to extend their winning this weekend as they host Fordham on Saturday and Rutgers on Sunday.