Volleyball concludes season, says goodbye to seniors

Pat Griffin

The Villanova women’s volleyball season came to a close last Sunday in winning fashion with a victory over Big East rival Rutgers that extended the ‘Cats’ winning streak to four games to close out the year. Villanova also beat Seton Hall, another Big East team, on Saturday. Both matches were won 3-1. The dual weekend wins ended a great season for the ‘Cats who were 18-16 overall, which is their best record since 1997. The Wildcats were also 7-6 in the Big East, a vast improvement on a 2-10 conference record last year.

With the closing of the season, the Wildcats said good bye to seniors Erin Birunas, Sylvia Taggert and Leah Mathews. They will be missed, especially since Mathews currently ranks sixth on the all-time digs list with 1,219 for Villanova and averaged 2.92 digs per game, fourth all-time. They performed great all four years, and they leave a team which looks to have a bright future with freshmen who are already showing their potential in Megan Abbott, Dana Kabashima and Celine Nuygen. Nuygen was named Co-Big East Rookie of the Week in early November.

Sophomore Kerri Sullivan, with her dominating performance in the last two matches, was named Co-Big East Player of the Week. Sullivan averaged 3.98 kills per game which put her in eighth place overall in the Big East and had 481 total kills for the season. In the Seton Hall match, she earned a career high in kills with 30.

The last game of the season, against the Scarlet Knights, was won soundly by ‘Nova 30-24, 28-30, 30-26 and 30-27. While the underclassmen are waiting in the wings to take over this team, the seniors gave one last valiant effort as both Mathews and Birunas notched double-doubles. Birunas had 18 kills and 16 digs and Mathews collected 17 kills and 11 digs in their last hurrah for the team. Nguyen led the team with 23 digs as her classmate Abbott added 13 kills. Sullivan had 23 kills to lead the team and junior Jennifer Edwards had 15 kills as the ‘Cats ended their trip to New Jersey with two wins.

The Seton Hall match proved to be another opportunity for the soon-to-be graduating seniors to show off. Mathews and Birunas both earned double-doubles again as the team won by scores of 32-30, 26-30, 30-26 and 30-22. Birunas had 16 kills and 19 digs and Mathews tallied 12 kills and 13 digs. Jenny Badran-Grycan also had an impressive game with 23 assists and 20 digs. But even with those super efforts, Sullivan outshined everyone with her 30 kill total which went along with her five blocks, four assists and three digs, as she accounted for 25 percent of the teams total offense during the season.