Volleyball struggles, drops two straight Big East matches

Pat Griffin

Coming out of the Wildcat Classic two weekends ago with a tournament victory, the ‘Cats were riding high until they met the University of Delaware the following Tuesday, and lost a heart-breaking five-set battle, 29-31, 30-25, 25-30, 30-16 and 13-15.

The loss extended the ‘Cats to a three-game losing streak and appeared to carry itself over into the next two matches against West Virginia on Friday afternoon and the University of Pittsburgh on Sunday, both straight-set losses.

Both of these competitions were conference matches and helped start the Wildcats off with an 0-2 conference record, along with their 9-9 overall record.

The Pittsburgh game was disappointing for the Wildcats as they were outplayed by the Panthers by scores of 30-17, 30-24 and 30-16.

Pittsburgh improved to 12-4 on the season and 2-0 in conference play with the victory.

‘Nova struggled throughout, recording a dismal .124 hitting percentage as compared to Pitt’s .362 accuracy.

The ‘Cats committed 26 attack errors which the Panthers capitalized upon.

The only bright spot in the loss was consistent sophomore Kerri Sullivan, who posted a game-high 14 kills, and freshman Celine Nguyen, who had a breakthrough match with eight kills and a team-high of 12 digs.

The team’s Big East opener on Friday against West Virginia mirrored the Pittsburgh game, as Villanova again failed to win a single set, losing in straight sets (30-27, 30-18 and 30-22).

The win improved West Virginia to 5-8 on the season.

The Mountaineers easily won the first two sets, never trailing the ‘Cats.

After coming out of the locker room, the Wildcats tried to stage a comeback, getting out to an early lead in the third set, but West Virginia fought back with a defense that had four players in the double digits in digs to quell ‘Nova’s efforts.

Offensively, the ‘Cats were led by Sullivan, who had 14 kills, and junior Jennifer Edwards, who had a game-high 26 assists.

Freshman Dana Kabashima stepped up defensively for the ‘Cats, leading the team with 17 digs.

The ‘Cats faced Delaware on Tuesday, who improved to 3-9 overall with the win over ‘Nova.

The sets were traded back and forth, as the ‘Cats lost the first set 29-31 and rebounded to take the second 30-25. ‘Nova then lost the next set by the same score only to go on a rampage, winning the fourth decisively 30-16.

But the fifth set leaned in Delaware’s direction, as the ‘Cats came up just short in losing the final set 13-15.

In the defeat, Sullivan was on fire, scoring a career-high 27 kills, while senior Leah Mathews had a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs. Delaware’s Allison Hunter was a force for her team and recorded a game-high 50 assists and 14 digs, and the two teams were split right down the middle as the ‘Cats just barely outhit the Blue Hens 67-66.

The Wildcats hope to get back on the winning path at home Saturday when they face the University of Pennsylvania at 7 p.m. at the Jake Nevin Fieldhouse.