Wildcats open Big East play with win

Jamie Kapalko

Last week was one of both celebration and disappointment for the Villanova women’s volleyball team. The Wildcats (6-9, 1-1 Big East) went 2-1 with Big 5 and Big East wins against LaSalle (6-10) and DePaul (4-11, 0-1 Big East), respectively. The DePaul match was special for the team as senior Adrian Semrau recorded her 1000th career kill. However, the team’s five-game winning streak was ended on Sunday with a loss to Notre Dame (8-5, 2-0 Big East).

On Wednesday, the Wildcats faced off against Big 5 opponent LaSalle. They began with a resounding 30-20 win in the first game. In the second game, they managed to pull out a 31-29 victory despite a hitting percentage of .000. The Explorers battled back in the third game to take a 31-29 win, but the Wildcats adjusted in the fourth game to come out on top, 30-21, and take the match. Sophomore Alona Cherkez and freshman Amy Gulyas led the team with 14 kills each, while senior Adrian Semrau contributed 11 kills. The victory extended the Wildcats’ winning streak over the Explorers, dating back to 1980, to 25 consecutive wins.

The team began Big East play on Saturday with a resounding 3-0 defeat over DePaul. The ‘Cats hit .432 while the Blue Demons hit only .045. The first game of the match was an easy one for the ‘Cats, who came out of the gate on fire to take a 15-4 lead and coasted to a comfortable win, 30-16. The second game was a close, but the ‘Cats pulled out the win, 30-28. The third game was ‘Nova’s strongest of the match. Senior Jenna Link led the team to an 18-1 start with three service aces, and the ‘Cats brought the victory home with a final score of 30-9.

Senior middle blocker Adrian Semrau, the Big East Player of the Week, collected her 1000th career kill during the match. She finished with 11 kills in the match.

The Wildcats’ five-game winning streak was brought to a halt on Sunday by Notre Dame. The team came out with intense energy and took an early lead in the first game, resulting in a 37-35 victory. The Fighting Irish were not rattled and regained momentum in the second game to win 30-24 and bring the match to a 1-1 tie. The third game kept fans on the edge of their seats the entire time, with no more than three points separating the teams and the lead passing back and forth several times.

Notre Dame made some key plays down the stretch to claim victory 33-31. The Irish did not relent in the fourth and final game, hitting .438 while the Wildcats only managed to hit .114. The win for Notre Dame was nothing new. In the 16 times the two teams have met, Villanova has never defeated the Fighting Irish.

The Wildcats hope to get back on track next week beginning with a match at the University of Pennsylvania (3-5) at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. They follow up the Big 5 match-up with two Big East battles against West Virginia (1-15, 0-0) on Saturday and Pittsburgh (12-5, 1-1) on Sunday.