Volleyball continues streak with victory over Fairfield

Matt Clarke

After a slow start, the women’s volleyball team (7-13) won four out of their last five games, capping off the stretch with a 3-1 victory against the Stags (3-18) at Fairfield University on Tuesday night.

The ‘Cats took the first two sets with scores of 30-27 and 30-23, respectively. In the third set, head coach Allison Keeley made some lineup changes to give the underclassmen more playing time. After returning to the court, the regular starters couldn’t turn it back on in time and lost the second set to the Stags 28-30. The ‘Cats were down by four points for much of the fourth match, but were able to come back to pull within two.

“Fairfield had a nice team with four seniors, playing in front of a lively crowd,” said Coach Keeley. “We struggled early in the first game but played consistently through the first and second sets to … finish strong.”

Co-captain Erin Birunas had 14 kills along with middle blocker Katie Lanting’s 13 kills for the Wildcats.

Senior Jennifer Edwards earned 19 assists and is currently fourth on Villanova’s all-time assist leader board. Junior middle blocker Kerri Sullivan came through big for the ‘Cats with a match-high 15 kills and eight block assists.

“It was good to click with the setters again and the key is just to stay aggressive the whole time point by point,” Sullivan said.

Villanova posted a 63-50 edge in kills and a slight 55-50 edge in digs. The Wildcats collected a total of 10 blocks.

The team has to run the gauntlet with six of its last eight matches coming against Big East opponents. Despite the slow start due to suspensions and injuries, the women still have a chance to finish fourth in the conference.

“We have a really high outlook for the rest of year,” Sullivan said. “We’re probably in the best position to make it get the fourth spot in the Big East tournament which has been our goal. We have some really big matches coming up, but we have the advantage that they’re at home.”

The last eight teams the ‘Cats have to face, have an average winning percentage of .561. The six Big East teams, including Seton Hall, UConn and Rutgers are struggling with a combined 9-20 conference record (.310) compared to Villanova’s 2-4 conference record (.333). “One game at a time,” said coach Keeley when asked about the season ahead. “If we take care of business, we’ll win.”

‘Nova will take on Big East rival Georgetown (13-10) at home on Saturday at 2 p.m.