Volleyball: Wildcats fight hard against Big East’s best

Carolyn Brown

By Carolyn Brown

Staff Reporter

While Villanova students packed their bags for fall break, the volleyball team remained on campus, preparing to face the No. 1 team in the Big East; the Louisville Cardinals. Showing up to Jake Nevin Field House having lost only one game out of all of their matches in the Big East, the Cardinals were ready to record another win in their undefeated Big East record but not without a fight from the Wildcats.

The Cardinals won the first two games easily, forcing Villanova to come back from behind. What looked like it was going to be an easy win for the Cardinals proved more difficult as the Wildcats stole game three, forcing Louisville’s second game loss in Big East play. A strong rally in game four seemed to indicate that the Wildcats would force the match to game five, but the Cardinals were able to rise above Villanova’s efforts, ending the game with a 30-26 victory and a 3-1 win.

Senior Alona Cherkez recorded match-highs of 24 kills and 19 digs, while junior Dana Tartazky recorded 18 kills and 15 digs. Sophomore Chelsea Graman also had another stellar performance with 43 assists, and sophomore Amy Gulyas recorded 11 digs.

A tough match against Temple University resulted in another loss for Villanova. A 3-0 win for the Owls does not reflect the level of play from the Wildcats. While keeping the match close, the Wildcats struggled to find an offensive rhythm the entire match. Even with Cherkez recording another double-double with 23 kills, 10 digs and hitting a .320 average, the Temple defense proved stronger, recording 11 blocks in only three games. Senior Kacy Sellers recorded nine kills, while Graman recorded 30 assists. In the third game, Villanova forced the game into extra points but was unable to hold onto the match, resulting in a loss with scores of 30-16 in game one, 30-22 in game two and 32-30 in game three.

Coming into a Big East match after two tough losses, the Wildcats were determined to pull out a win against Seton Hall. In its 12th five-game match of the year, Villanova defeated Seton Hall 3-2. Cherkez recorded yet another double-double, recording 27 kills and 24 digs both of which were match-highs. Gulyas moved from libero to the outside hitter position early in the game and had a leading performance, recording a double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs. She led the team with a .433 hitting percentage.

Sophomore Elysse Studzinski came up big for the Wildcats with 11 blocks, which was a career high. Sellers was again a leader of the team as she had 14 kills, nine blocks and seven digs. Junior Whitney Harrington also performed at a top level for the Wildcats with nine kills and seven blocks, while Graman had a huge day, recording a double-double, the third on the day, with 56 assists and 17 digs.

Villanova took game one 30-23 and fell in game two, 30-27. In game three, the Wildcats came out on top with a 30-22 win before falling once again in game four, 30-28. Game five was an all-out battle, but Villanova was victorious, winning 15-12. The Wildcats recorded season-highs in blocks and digs with 18 and 87.

The Wildcats, now 14-9, 6-3 in the Big East, will face South Florida at home on Saturday.