‘Nova hits down hard on Hornets

Courtney Scrib

With only a week separating them from their biggest tournament of preseason competition, the Wildcats, coming off a tough 0-3 sweep at Northwestern’s Wildcat Classic, desperately needed a victory.

On Sept. 23, the women’s volleyball team was not only victorious in its match against Delaware State (1-10); it was outright dominating.

“The game was very one-sided,” head coach Gilad Doron said. “Hopefully, it will help us get back into the swing of things.”

The win (30-21, 30-15, 30-20) gave Villanova its fourth win of the season.

Still missing some of their players due to injuries, the Wildcats traveled to the Hornets’ nest determined to get back on the winning track. To accomplish this feat, the team would have to overcome both the Delaware State team and the crowd of over 200 people cheering against them.

“We definitely were not used to playing in front of big crowds,” junior outside hitter Dana Kabashima said, “especially ones that rowdy.”

Rather than be intimidated, however, the Wildcats used the surrounding adrenaline to their advantage.

“We had to learn how to use [the opposition’s cheering] to fire ourselves up,” Kabashima said. “Once we did that, we played very well and consistently.”

Kabashima played a key role in Villanova’s three-game sweep over the Hornets. In addition to a match-high 17 kills and a team-high five digs, she also reached a career-best .640 attack percentage.

Several of Kabashima’s teammates also gave strong performances, including sophomore Adrian Semrau, who had 15 kills with a .480 attack percentage, and freshman setter Stephanie Olsen, who added 32 assists.

Furthermore, the match saw the return of senior Kerry Sullivan, last year’s team offensive leader, who had been sidelined this season with an injury.

“Although there is always room for improvement, they did a good job in settling down and executing,” Doron said.

The Wildcats set the tone early for the match by surging to big leads in each of the first two games. Overall, they hit .378 as a team, their best hitting performance of the season, and made just 15 attack errors.

As Kabashima said, the game gave the team a chance to “smooth out the rough edges.”

Throughout the match, the Wildcats were also able to try new things and run plays that they normally would not have run against more competitive teams.

“This was another opportunity for us to learn how to gel together,” Doron said.

The win could not have come at a better time for the Wildcats as they prepare for this weekend’s Big East Preseason Challenge hosted by Rutgers. In addition to the Scarlet Knights, Connecticut and Boston College will also be competing.

“This tournament is going to be the real test,” Doron said. “It will let us know where we stand and what we have to do to be prepared for the regular reason.”

Kabashima and the rest of the team are also anxious to see what will happen this weekend.

“Everyone has high expectations,” Kabashima said. “We know it’s going to be competitive, and teams are going to come in with a lot of intensity.”

Today Villanova, with a record of 4-6, takes on the Huskies in its first match of the two-day tournament.

The two teams meet again on Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. at Connecticut for the first Big East competition of the regular season.