Wildcats Big East Tournament bound

Michael Zipf

Heading into the 2005 season, the Villanova women’s volleyball team had one goal: to qualify for the Big East Tournament. On Sunday, the Wildcats turned their dream into a reality as they defeated the Blue Demons of DePaul University to clinch a berth in the Big East Tournament. With their victory over Depaul, the Wildcats earned the No. 8 seed in the Big East Tournament; however, they are forced to play No. 1 seed Notre Dame, who had defeated the Wildcats this past Friday. Nevertheless, the team appears excited and determined to take on the top ranked Fighting Irish, who are also ranked No. 8 nationally. Villanova head coach, Gilad Doron said, “This is a good opportunity to play our best against a top ranked opponent.” Head coach Doron also noted that he was pleased with his team’s earlier performance against Notre Dame, in which he believed that his team demonstrated the competitive spirit and hard work necessary to victorious. However, the team recognizes that they will have to execute in all facets of the game in order to overcome an incredibly talented and physical Notre Dame team. Ultimately, the team is thrilled to accomplish their goal of qualifying for the Big East Tournament and is poised to build upon their successful season.

On Saturday Nov. 14, the Wildcats earned their second bid in three years to the Big East Tournament by defeating Big East opponent DePaul. The Wildcats defeated the Blue Demons 30-12, 30-27, 30-17 to record their 21st victory of the season. At times, the Wildcats clearly overmatched DePaul, limiting the Blue Demons to a 0.18 hit percentage and out-blocking them eight to five. The Wildcats were led by senior outside hitter Celine Nguyen, who registered a match high 11 kills and junior Jenna Like, who recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 35 assists and 13 digs. After an initial slow start, the Wildcats dominated the first and third games and edged out a close second game to capture the 3-0 victory. Although the Wildcats failed to play their best game, Doron was very pleased with his team’s ability to find a way to win when so much was on the line.

“We had everything to lose, and they had everything to gain. I was very pleased how our players were able to just play their game and accomplish their goal,” coach Doron said. Doron hopes that this victory will give his team the confidence necessary to compete with and be victorious against a great Notre Dame team in their first round match in the Big East Tournament.

In their last meeting with Notre Dame on Nov. 12 the Wildcats suffered a tough defeat. The Wildcats lost all three games, 13-30, 25-30 and 23-30, but illustrated that they could compete with the top-ranked Fighting Irish. When asked how he would characterize his team’s performance against Notre Dame, Doron responded, “There were many positives from this game. We showed that we could compete with one of the top ranked teams in the nation. If we continue to play our game, play hard, execute and a couple of our players continue to step-up their games we should be in for a great game.”

Although the Wildcats stumbled early on losing the first game 13-30, the Wildcats demonstrated excellent play and kept the Irish on edge in the second and third games. Freshman outside hitter Alona Cherkez and junior middle block Adrian Sermrau led the Wildcats each posting double figure kills.

Heading into their match with the Irish, the Wildcats don’t carry too many expectations or goals, but rather just hope to play another day and continue to build upon their successful season. In each game throughout the season, the Wildcats have hoped to build upon their performances and get better. Right now, the Wildcats seem poised to play one of their best games of the season and are ready to engage in a tough battle against big nemesis Notre Dame. The Wildcats take on the Irish at Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky. on Friday, Nov. 18.