Wildcats wipe out Wagner, 3-0

Courtney Scrib

In a season marked by injuries, a demanding road schedule and the loss of key players, the women’s volleyball team has continuously proved itself capable of embracing the ups and confronting and learning from the downs.

On Wednesday night, the Wildcats, who were coming off a 0-3 loss to Pittsburgh, once again displayed their resilient ways as they easily defeated Wagner, 3-0. The sweeping victory improved the team’s overall record to 7-14.

“There was a different level of competition since Wagner is not as strong as some of the other teams we’ve played, but the team still did a very good job,” head coach Gilad Doron said. “They won quickly and did what they were supposed to do.”

The Wildcats set the tone early as they committed just two errors and hit .426 as a team to capture the first game, 30-21. They would go on to win the next two games by scores of 30-9 and 30-19, respectively. By the end of the night, Villanova would finish with a .326 hitting percentage and make just eight total hitting errors.

Although the win was a result of an all-around strong team effort, there were several noteworthy performances from juniors Megan Abbott and Celine Nguyen and sophomore Jen Lalli, who had 28 assists. Abbott led Villanova with 11 kills and five total blocks, while Nguyen, who has been a consistently solid player throughout the season, contributed 10 kills.

“The team is definitely gelling right now and understanding each other better,” Doron said. “We are getting the confidence we need.”

Earlier in the week, Villanova was swept by Pittsburgh, the defending Big East conference champions. Despite ultimately falling to the Panthers, the Wildcats held their opponents to well under their season hitting percentage. However, with 23 attack errors and a 0.094 hitting average, their lowest percentage in their last 12 games, the ‘Cats were never able to rally back.

“Pitt may not have reflected out best team performance, but individually, I had the opportunity to block one of the Big East’s top middles and improve my game,” sophomore Adrian Semrau, who led the Wildcats with 13 kills, said. “(As a team) we struggled with Pitt’s powerful outside but played hard.”

Sunday’s loss, which was the seventh straight time the Wildcats have been defeated by Pittsburgh, came after an exhausting match against another conference rival, West Virginia. After over two hours of playing, the Wildcats finally rallied past the Mountaineers in the fifth match for a 3-2 win. It was only the second time this season that the team has played a five-game match.

“The entire team came together, especially in the fifth game,” Semrau said. “It felt great to win another hard-fought battle.”

The Wildcats still have plenty of more battles to fight this season. On Saturday they host Syracuse at 1 p.m. at the Jake Nevin Field House and will try to defend their perfect 5-0 home record.

Meanwhile, on Sunday they cap off their three-game homestand with a match against Notre Dame.

“It’s very different to play on the road and to play at home,” Doron said. “We are looking forward to playing in front of the student body and hoping they will help build some momentum.”