Women’s volleyball nets first home win

Jermey Finn

The women’s volleyball team lost two five-set matches last weekend before rallying to win its final of three matches in the 2003 Wildcat Classic, held at Jake Nevin Field House. The win against UMBC halted a five-game losing streak for the ‘Cats.

In the Friday night showdown against local rival Pennsylvania, Villanova clawed back from a two games to one disadvantage. Dana Kabashima and Celine Nguyen stepped up with 10 kills apiece to pull the ‘Cats even and excite the crowd in the team’s first home match this season. “The crowd got into it in the fourth game,” head coach Allison Keeley said. “It was cool. It helped us get comfortable.” Despite the home court coziness, Penn came out firing in the decisive fifth game, hitting .692 as a team and racing to the win.

Saturday morning’s contest against Manhattan saw the ‘Cats lose a 2-1 lead in the match. Luka Van Cauteren’s consistent play and Maggie Pfiefer’s clutch points spearheaded the Manhattan charge. Van Cauteren’s efforts helped her earn a spot on the all tournament team. Senior Erin Birunas had 19 kills and a key block to help keep the Wildcats in the match, but Manhattan’s consistent ball placement and powerful serves from Krista Thorsen sparked the Jaspers to the 3-2 win.

Kerri Sullivan paced the team throughout the tournament, racking up 83 kills between the three games on her way to all-tournament accolades. Against the UMBC Retrievers, ‘Nova dropped the first game 30-28. However, UMBC tired after the first game, fresh off a grueling 3-2 defeat of Penn in the previous match of the tourney.

Sullivan set the tone for the rest of the match by pounding a kill on the first point of the second game. They rattled off six straight points on Katie Lating’s serve to take a 13-7 lead.

They never looked back after that, breezing through the last three games to capture the win. Lanting also chipped in with 14 kills for ‘Nova.

“Kerri is our go-to hitter,” Keeley said. “We also had four athletes hitting around .250 this weekend.”

The tournament field of Villanova, Manhattan, UMBC and Penn was very evenly matched, with four of the six games going the full five matches.

The Wildcats will take their act on the road this weekend, playing at Notre Dame tonight and at Syracuse on Sunday.