Women’s volleyball takes two in MD to start year

Kyle Scudilla

Freshman outside hitter Alona Cherkez of Israel has had a memorable start to her career at Villanova, and it has caused the Wildcats to win their first two games of the season, topping both Northeastern and the University of Maryland Baltimore County by 3-1 margins.

The season opener, which was played the afternoon of August 27, saw the Wildcats defeat Northeastern in four games. Although they lost the first game 26-30, they swept the remaining games by scores of 30-23, 32-30, and a convincing 30-15 clincher. Cherkez was the key performer, gaining 16 kills, 10 digs and three service aces in her collegiate debut. Senior outside hitter Dana Kabashima and sophomore middle hitter Kacy Sellers had 12 kills apiece, and Adrian Semrau registered 11 kills and four blocks.

Helping in a big way to set up the day’s big plays was Jenna Link, a transfer from the University of Alabama Birmingham. She had 37 assists, six digs, three blocks and two kills. Jen Lalli also helped the cause by contributing 16 assists. Villanova finished the match with a .301 team hitting percentage, and had just 15 attack errors. The Wildcats had 10.0 team blocks and nine service aces for the match.

Villanova was even sharper in their victory over UMBC in the nightcap on Saturday. Their offense was impressive, finishing with a .352 attack percentage. Semrau led the way with a career-best hitting percentage of .679 (20 kills, one attack error). Other key performers were Cherkez and fellow freshman and Israeli Dana Tartakazy who added 15 kills a piece. In addition, Jenna Link gave out 46 assists.

Cherkez, along with junior middle blocker Adrian Semrau each totaled 31 kills over the two game stretch. Cherkez, Tartakazy and Kabashima each had double-doubles (kills-digs) in one of the two games on Saturday.

Villanova will next take the courts at the Comcast Lobo Volleyball Tournament on September 2-3 at the University of New Mexico. Opponents for the tournament include Lamar on Friday night, and then host New Mexico and Northern Arizona on Saturday.