‘Nova seeks to improve 0-3 record

Courtney Scrib

Heading into the first tournament of the season, the members of the women’s volleyball team knew a weekend of steep competition and underdog expectations awaited them.

Limited by injuries and the absence of several starters, the Wildcats finished the Loyola Marymout Four Points Sheraton Classic on Sept. 4 with a 0-3 record, after being defeated by Tennessee, #18 Loyola Marymount and Duke.

“It was hard to go out knowing that we are missing some of our key players who are not cleared to play yet this season,” head coach Gilad Doron said.

In addition to sophomore setter Jenn Lali, the team also had to play without seniors Kerri Sullivan and Katie Lantig, both of whom led the team in kills last season.

“I hope they can join us soon to help with our depth, especially on the front,” Doran said.

While the other players miss and anxiously anticipate the return of their teammates and the experience and leadership they bring with them, the Wildcats have accepted the present circumstances and stepped up to fill the missing roles.

One of the most outstanding players in tournament this past weekend was junior outside hitter Celine Nguyen.

Despite feeling nervous about playing in front of her friends and family and competing against a few of her former high school teammates, Nguyen proved herself a dominant force on the court.

In three matches, the California native had two double-doubles (kills-digs) and averaged team highs of 3.5 kills and 3.4 digs per game.

“I was under double the pressure to play well,” Nguyen said, “but fortunately, I channeled that pressure into adrenaline and managed to play at a higher level.”

Because of her “higher level” performance, she was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

“I was extremely honored and excited to receive the All-Tournament Team award.

“I couldn’t have done it without the 110% efforts of my teammates,” Nguyen added.

Sophomore middle blocker Adria Semrau also consistently played well throughout the two days of competition. She finished the tournament with 21 kills and led the team with nine total blocks.

However, the veterans were not the only players making names for themselves.

While freshman Stephanie Olsen started her collegiate career with 107 assists, her classmate Kacy Sellers averaged 2.5 kills per game and accounted for four of the team’s seven service aces, including three in the match against Loyola Marymount.

“Under the given circumstances of numerous injuries and missing starters from our team, I was proud of the way we stepped up and competed throughout the tournament,” Nguyen said. “The intensity level was at an all time high, and everyone gave their all.”

In its first match of the tournament, Villanova jumped out to an 11-4 lead in game one and held on for the 30-25 victory. However, by the second game, the Lady Vols had corrected most of their errors from the first game and were able to come back from a game-one deficit to win the match, 3-1.

Tennessee would later go on to defeat LMU in the championship game to win the tournament.

“Winning a game off Tennessee in our first match set the tone for the rest of the tournament,” Nguyen said. “Being the obvious underdogs, we were not going to let teams roll over us as easily as they would’ve thought.”

In their next two games, the Wildcats once again started off strong only to fall to teams capable of making late match rallies to pull away.

During the game against the LSU, last year’s tournament champions, the score was tied 12 times.

Despite putting up a strong effort in its final match, Villanova was unable to penetrate Duke’s defense and ultimately was swept by the Blue Devils in three games (30-27, 30-20, 30-24).

Although for Doran and her team, the losses were not complete setbacks.

“We played very tough,” Doran said. “The team fought very hard and showed that [it] can compete with some of the better teams in the country.”

Coming up this weekend, Villanova will host the Wildcat Classic at Jake Nevin Gymnasium. On Friday, the Wildcats will compete against Binghamton at 7 p.m., Fairfield on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. followed by Virginia Commonwealth at 5:30 p.m.