Volleyball takes on LaSalle in exciting home match

Patrick Griffin

The women’s volleyball team put together a solid effort in a three-game sweep of LaSalle Tuesday night. The ‘Cats looked focused and driven as soon as they walked on the court, and kept that spirit all the way through to emerge victorious over the Explorers by scores of 30-23, 30-27 and 30-27.

Led by senior Leah Mathews, who had a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs, and sophomore Kerri Sullivan, who contributed 19 kills and five blocks, the Wildcats took it to the Explorers right from the start as they went up and stayed up the entire first game. The first set contained some ugly mistakes from both teams and also some brilliant strategic placement shots by each.

There were also numerous point-winning blocks from each side, as well as some vicious winners by both Sullivan and freshman Megan Abbott, who had a breakthrough performance with 10 kills and four digs. This game displayed La Salle’s weakness at passing the ball and setting up shots, something the ‘Cats showed they are adept at.

The second game was characterized by long, all-out rallies where players consistently came up with mind-blowing saves. La Salle started off the game with the lead and held a slim lead most of game until 18-18. After a couple of hard-fought points, ‘Nova overtook the lead for the first time at 20-19. The ‘Cats then started to pull away with a punishing spike by Mathews to make it 26-23, while Sullivan won it at 30-27 with another kill.

After the intermission, the Wildcats came out of the locker strong, making La Salle look disorganized. Sullivan came through again, shoving every ball that La Salle sent over the net right back down their throats.

But La Salle recovered and fought back, hitting one kill so hard it rebounded off a’Nova player and into the stands above, making it 13-7 ‘Nova.

As ‘Nova continued to lead, the Explorers kept with them, refusing to fold as they put together some nice winners, but it was to no avail as the Wildcats held a crucial five-point lead for most of the set. The ‘Cats got to match point but struggled as La Salle won three straight points. ‘Nova finally converted to show once again that they know how to win.

“We’ve got to do a lot of things still, but we broke through that barrier,” Abbott said, commenting on importance of the game. “We feel good about going into the season at this point.”

Leah Mathews followed up her teammate’s statement.

“I’m very happy, the team came together well,” she said.

“The team is very strong, lots of people stepped up, and it is the best game that Meg [Abbott] has had yet,” Villanova head coach Alison Keeley said.

The Wildcats are coming off a weekend where they fell to No. 11 Penn State on Friday and swept both Army and Morgan State on Saturday in the Penn State Classic at State College, Pa. Sullivan and Mathews received All-Tournament team honors for their play, and it was the third such honor for Sullivan this season.

The team is hosting its own tournament this weekend, the Wildcat Classic, which opens tonight against Duquesne at 7:30 p.m.