Volleyball season ends with loss to Notre Dame

Michael Zipf

Heading into their quarterfinals match of the Big East Tournament against No. 1 ranked Notre Dame, the Villanova women’s volleyball team didn’t carry too many expectations. The only expectation that the team had was the same expectation that they had the entire season: play hard, play as a team, and execute. The Villanova Wildcats fulfilled their expectations and even surpassed the expectations of many experts, nearly upsetting the No. 1 Irish of Notre Dame who posted a 25-2 record heading into the match.

“I thought the girls gave everything they had,” said head coach Gilad Doron.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their efforts were not enough as they lost three games to one in a very highly competitive match. The Wildcats opened the match with great momentum stunning the Irish by recording a 30-28 victory in a highly contested first game. The first game witnessed ten ties and three different lead changes until the Wildcats prevailed with the game’s largest lead at 27-23 off a kill by junior Adrian Semrau. This victory in the first game marked the first time that Villanova took a game off Notre Dame since Sept. 26, 2003. This also marked the Wildcats first appearance in the Big East Tournament since 2003 when they lost in the first round to Pittsburg.

With momentum on their side, the Wildcats looked to continue to surprise the Irish and build upon their lead. However, the Irish quickly responded to the Wildcats fierce attack never relinquishing the lead during the entire second game. Notre Dame took a 26-20 lead on a block by Lauren Kelbley and Lauren Brewster. Nevertheless, the Wildcats fought back and cut the lead to four on two straight kills by Adrian Semrau.

The third game of the match featured the games most intense battle as the Wildcats nearly stole the game with a 14-2 run to erase all but one point of Notre Dame’s 12-point lead. The run was sparked by a kill from second team “All-Big East” player Kacy Sellers. However Notre Dame’s Lauren Brewster thwarted the Wildcats’ rally by converting on a kill and putting up a solo block to set up an Irish game point. A block by Carolyn Cooper secured the game for the Irish and gave them a 2-1 set lead.

The fourth and ultimately decisive game featured excellent play from both teams as the Wildcats and Irish engaged in quite an epic battle. Villanova gained an early 10-7 advantage, but Notre Dame eventually erased the lead tying the game at 12 on a Kill by Lauren Brewster. Notre Dame continued on the offensive taking a 20-15 lead. The Wildcats valiantly tried to erase the deficit but wound up losing the game 23-30 and the match 3-1. Although the Wildcats season came to an end, the players and their coaches were extremely proud of all of their accomplishments this season.

Besides earning success as a team, several individuals earned praises and accolades. All-Big East honors. In addition, Sellers this year was selected to all-tournament teams at the Villanova Classic and the Inn Towner Invitational at Wisconsin University. Sellers this season was one of the team’s most consistent and top all-round players. She led the team with a .313 attack percentage and posted a team high 49 service aces and 96 blocks. As for next season, Sellers wishes to continue to improve her game and believes that the team should also continue to grow and improve. “Next year I just want to take my own game up another level and hopefully other people on the team do so as well. This will allow us to accomplish our goals of making the Big East Tournament again and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament,” she said.

If the Wildcats continue to show the determination, execution and consistency that they demonstrated during this successful season, they should be poised for another remarkable season next year.