Volleyball Goes 2-1 in Villanova Classic


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Riley Homer (above) had a strong showing at the Villanova Classic.

Zac Tipton, Staff Writer

Villanova volleyball beat Lafayette College and University of New Hampshire, but it was unable to overcome Fairfield at the Villanova Classic, moving its season record to 3-3.

The Wildcats made their home debut Friday, beating Lafayette in straight sets (25-23, 26-24, 29-27). They then took out New Hampshire on Saturday in a thrilling five-set match (25-17, 14-25, 25-22, 22-25, 22-20). But that would be the last win of the tournament for Villanova, as it fell to Fairfield in another five-set thriller (25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 21-25, 9-15), on Sunday.

The Wildcats entered this tournament with a 1-2 record after losing to USC in three sets and UMBC in four at the Cardinal and Gold Classic in southern California.

Villanova faced Lafayette College in the first game of the Classic on Friday. The first set established the tone for the entire match. Lafayette took the first two points of the set, holding onto that lead until late in the set when it was 23-21. Villanova started to put things together, and right when it looked like the set was over, junior outside hitter Riley Homer got a kill, followed by a Wildcat block. Then, it was Homer again with another kill before a Lafayette error gave ‘Nova the come from behind set win to go up to 1-0. 

The second set was also back and forth but with a lot more runs than the first, as Villanova took an early 11-5 lead. Lafayette took the lead back late, scoring nine of the next 12 points to take a 22-18 lead. But Villanova battled back, winning four straight to tie it. However, it would take more than 25 to win this set. With the score tied at 24, sophomore outside hitter Rose Crist delivered a strong kill that was immediately followed by an ace from senior setter Belle Morgan to secure the win.

The third set followed the same trend, with the lead never getting higher than three points. It was back and forth again, and when Villanova was down to its last point 24-21, it rallied. It scored four straight before the Leopards regained possession.  After two Lafayette points, the ‘Cats were able to put it away, winning three straight off of two kills from Homer and a service ace. 

Carrying the momentum from the win, Villanova took on New Hampshire on Saturday. The ‘Cats fell early, but down 11-7, a timeout by head coach Josh Steinbach allowed the Wildcats to regroup. They came out firing, winning 13 of the next 16, before winning five of the last eight points to take the first set 25-17. 

New Hampshire took a 12-7 lead and cruised. Despite a short Villanova run, the Wildcats of New Hampshire took out Villanova handily, scoring on 13 of the next 20 points to easily win the second set, 25-14. 

The third set was the closest despite New Hampshire winning the first five points of the set. Villanova was able to close the lead this time, and with the score tied at 20, the Villanova Wildcats went on a three-point run that allowed them to finish it off, winning the set, 25-22. 

The fourth set was a close affair, and no one jumped out to an early lead. When Villanova went on a five-point run to take a 19-16 lead, it looked like it would be able to cruise to a win, but New Hampshire fought back, winning eight of the next 10 points, before a kill finished off the set for UNH. 

The fifth set typically goes to 15, but this set nearly made it to 25. Neither team could get two in a row, and it felt like the game would go on forever. But after a long set, junior middle Kiera Booth and Morgan ended it with back-to-back kills. 

Finally, Villanova ended its classic with a game against Fairfield, which had also won its first two matches. The first set was all Villanova, as it took a 17-7 lead and was never caught. Despite Fairfield trying to come back, Villanova took five of the last eight to win, 25-18. 

The second set started back and forth, but when Fairfield took the 16-12 lead, Villanova couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way. 

No team could get a lead larger than three in the third set. When Fairfield was leading 15-13, Villanova won six straight. Fairfield never came back, and Villanova finished it off with a kill from Morgan.

The fourth set was the same as the second, starting close, but Fairfield took a big 16-9 lead. It held that lead firm, and Villanova was unable to recover. For the second time in two days, Villanova headed back to a fifth set. 

Down 3-0 in the fifth, Fairfield scored six straight points to take a 6-3 lead. Villanova won back-to-back to bring it within one, but Fairfield could not be stopped. It won nine of the next 13 points to take the set and match.

The Wildcats return to action next weekend when they travel to Ohio for the Dayton Invitational. Villanova will face Missouri State and Dayton on Friday before facing off against Illinois on Saturday.