Volleyball extends win streak in impressive fashion

Pat Griffin

The Villanova women’s volleyball team extended its win streak to six this weekend as it won its own tournament, the Wildcat Classic, by beating Siena in straight sets Saturday afternoon, 30-18, 30-19, and 30-25.

On their way to winning the tournament, the ‘Cats also defeated and swept the Radford Highlanders earlier on Saturday by scores of 32-30, 30-26, and 30-28.

The Wildcats, who improved to 9-6 on the season, also beat the Duquesne Dukes on Friday night, 3-1, by scores of 30-16, 27-30, 30-28 and 30-28. Villanova was the champ of the tourney, going 3-0, while Duquesne notched a 2-1 record, Radford was 1-2 and Siena lost all three of its matches. Wildcat players were well honored for their efforts this weekend, with senior Leah Mathews being named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while being joined on the All-Tournament team by her teammates, sophomores Katie Lanting and Kerri Sullivan.

Mathews recorded 38 kills and 23 digs for the tournament and Sullivan added 42 kills while Lanting had 28 kills.

The first game on Friday night against Duquesne was ‘Nova’s toughest match of the tournament, as it was the only one in which they gave up a set.

After a decisive win in the first game and a loss in the second, the Wildcats scored back-to-back aces in the third set, then allowed the Dukes to tie it up at 16 before they broke away, aided by two kills from Sullivan. In the fourth game, the Dukes got an early 6-3 lead, but the Wildcats struck back with a 16-5 run, making it 19-11.

The Dukes then responded with their own run of 13-5 to tie the match at 24. The two teams went back and forth, trading points until 28-28 when freshman Megan Abbott issued a huge block to get the point and then another block on the ensuing point to earn the victory. Five Wildcats, including Mathews, Sullivan, senior Erin Birunas, Abbott and Lanting, recorded kills in the double digits led by Mathews with 16 to go along with 11 digs.

Sophomore Jennifer Badran-Grycan, who had one of the back-to-back aces, also had a great match, contributing 30 assists, 14 digs and four aces.

‘Nova’s first game on Saturday was a hard-earned sweep against Radford. Despite getting behind in the third game, the team rebounded to take the game 30-28. Mathews led the way, as usual, with 17 kills and 12 digs to record her sixth double-double of the season. She was helped by Jennifer Edwards, who racked up 22 assists and seven digs, and Badran-Grycan, who had 19 assists and nine digs.

The third win of the weekend, and the one that cemented the tournament win, was Saturday afternoon against the Siena Saints. ‘Nova held the Saints to an average of 21 points per set as Sullivan blew 19 kills by Siena and Badran-Grycan had 21 assists and a game high 12 digs. The Wildcats outdid the Saints in the kill department (49 to 37) and digs (51 to 42).

The other players nominated to the All-Tournament team with Mathews, Lanting and Sullivan were Ashley Macko and Sarah Morrow, both of Duquesne, and Bliss Mulligan of Radford.

The Wildcats next home match is against Miami on Oct. 5 at 11 a.m.