‘Cats still digging for a victory

Courtney Scrib

They have won some and they have lost some, but in every game, the women’s volleyball team has demonstrated a passion and ability to compete.

Last weekend Villanova was once again pushed to the limit by its Big East rivals, Syracuse and Notre Dame. On Saturday, the Wildcats were swept by the Orange by scores of 30-19, 30-25 and 30-23, while on Sunday they faced the same fate against the Fighting Irish, bringing an end to the ‘Cats’ perfect home record. Villanova now stands at 7-16 overall and 1-6 in conference action.

“Although it was a rough weekend, we have to look at the positive aspects,” head coach Gilad Doron said. “Both teams were more physical than some of the other teams we’ve played, but we were still able to make some great plays.”

During Villanova’s Parent’s Weekend, Notre Dame proved why it’s one of the top blocking teams in the nation as the team recorded 13.5 blocks for the match, including five total blocks from three different players.

The Wildcats also displayed an impressive defensive performance with key contributions coming from junior Dana Kabashima and Jen Lalli. Kabashima reached a team-high 17 digs, while Lalli collected a double-double with 30 assists and 10 digs.

Freshman middle hitter Kaci Sellers, who ranks 10th in the Big East conference with a .266 attack percentage, also led the team with four total blocks.

However, the strong defensive play could not completely compensate for the Wildcats’ 35 attack errors, which brought them to a season-low .007 hitting percentage. Sunday’s loss (30-27, 30-24, 30-22) was the 13th straight time that Villanova has fallen to Notre Dame.

Although his team was defeated, Doron was reassured by the players’ concentration and energy, which he believed was the highest it has been all season.

“We just have to keep at it and work harder so that we can get over this hump,” he added.

Meanwhile, on the previous day in their first home loss of the season, the Wildcats also found themselves unable to overcome their more physically dominant opponents. Whereas Syracuse recorded a .266 hitting percentage and 12 team blocks, Villanova committed 23 hitting errors and had just two blocks.

As always, ‘Nova’s defense refused to be taken down easily. The team earned 63 digs, including a team-high 22 from junior outside hitter Celine Nguyen.

“Our team has definitely gone through its phases and has grown and progressed so much so far this season,” Nguyen, who is averaging nearly six digs per games, said. “We’ve all stepped up, both mentally and physically, realizing that we have the capacity to compete at a much higher level than what we’ve done in the past.”

Other players who stepped up in the match against Syracuse included Kabashima (11 kills, 19 digs), as well as Sellers and sophomore Adrian Semrau, who each contributed 10 kills.

“We played really well but need to correct some of our errors in order capitalize on more opportunities,” Doron said. “We always look forward to another chance to compete.”

The ‘Cats will get their chance on Sunday when they travel to Jamaica, N.Y., to take on St. John’s at 2 p.m. Their next home game takes place on Sun., Nov. 12 against Seton Hall.