‘Cats snap slump with 3-0 sweep over Huskies

Courtney Scrib

For every season, there is a turn.

Or rather, a turnaround.

On Sunday the women’s volleyball team found itself changing directions after having lost four consecutive matches. With the support of a roaring home crowd, the Wildcats pulled off a long-awaited victory over Connecticut.

The 3-0 win (30-19, 30-23, 30-18) gave the team its twentieth win of the season, making it the first time since 1997 that Villanova has posted a 20-win season record. Ironically, that was also the same year that the Wildcats last defeated the Huskies.

“The girls played really well and consistently and were having fun,” head coach Gilad Doron said. “They took control of their own destiny.”

With less than a week left before the announcement of the Big East volleyball tournament teams, the win could not have come at a better time for Villanova. Standing at a 20-8 overall record and a 7-4 conference record, this weekend’s matches could determine how much further the team’s season will be extended.

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, they face one of their toughest opponents of the season on Saturday at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are currently ranked fifth in the nation and are undefeated at home this season. They are also coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, a team Villanova defeated earlier in the year.

“Everyone is going to have to bring their game,” Doron said. “Notre Dame is going to be hard to beat, but the girls are playing well and know that it’s not impossible.”

Following the Notre Dame match, the Wildcats will travel to DePaul on Sunday for its last regular season match of the year.

Regardless of the weekend’s outcome, the team still has reason to be proud. In what has been called a “turnaround” season, the Wildcats have played in one of the country’s most competitive conferences and against several top-25 teams, including Wisconsin, Louisville and UCLA.

“The Big East has been a lot stronger this year [which] has helped us get to that next level,” Doron said. “As a coach it is extremely rewarding to come in and see the team do well.”

The end of the season also brings an end to the collegiate careers of four outstanding players. In last Sunday’s pre-match senior ceremony, Megan Abbott, Megan Bye, Dana Kabashima and Celine Nguyen were all honored for their accomplishments and the contributions they have made to the program throughout the last four years.

In the match against UConn, Kabashima was nearly flawless. She recorded 10 kills on 14 attempts with no errors, while her .714 hitting percentage was a career best. The outside hitter, who has played in 110 of the 118 matches contested during her four years at ‘Nova, was one of two players this season to surpass the 1,000 career digs mark.

The other player to reach the 1.000 career dig milestone was outside hitter Celine Nguyen. By the end of Sunday’s match, the California native had posted 1,239 career digs and 791 kills. Her leadership and consistency has made her an invaluable asset to the team.

For Doron, one the hardest parts about coaching in college is trying to replace players, especially like the ones in this year’s graduating class.”All of them are leaving a great mark on this program,” he said.