Volleyball Goes 0-2 to Start Big East Schedule


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Maddie Schieder (above) had two aces in a set against Xavier.

Zac Tipton, Staff Writer

Heading into last weekend, Villanova (4-10, 0-2 Big East) was looking to make improvements against two of the top Big East teams to gain some confidence and momentum for the rest of the year. But it was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, losing in straight sets to both Xavier (9-3, 2-0 Big East) and Creighton (10-3, 2-0 Big East).  

Villanova was 4-8 heading into the first weekend of conference play. It lost six of its last seven and was heading on the road to face an Xavier team that had just upset Cincinnati and a Creighton team that is #23 in the country.

Villanova lost to Xavier on Friday in three sets (25-19, 25-21,25-19) and lost to Creighton in three sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-18), with the closest set being the second in the match against Xavier, where it reached 21 points. It was the only time all weekend Villanova put 20 or more points up in a frame. 

From the start, Villanova was in for a tough match against Xavier because of the amount of offensive production from everyone in the lineup. Four women on Xavier had nearly 10 kills in the match. The former Big East Offensive Player of the Week, Carrigan O’Reilly, continued her strong play with seven kills in 11 attempts and 38 assists. Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach knew O’Reilly was going to be tough to beat. 

“She’s Offensive Player of the Week because she runs that offense,” Steinbach said. “She’s their point guard. She can score as a setter. She is an extremely offensive setter. She’s also just a very good locator.” 

O’Reilly wasn’t the only one putting up a lot of points for the Musketeers. Delaney Hogan led the way with 11 kills, and MaryAnn O’Toole had 10 kills herself, while Anna Taylor finished with nine. 

Villanova tried to keep up with this offense as senior Kathleen Johnson, junior Kiera Booth and sophomore Rose Crist combined for 30 of Villanova’s 37 kills. 

Villanova did not lead in many categories, but one it did was aces. Villanova had five aces in this game, including two from senior Maddie Schieder. 

During the match, Villanova never held a lead in the first or third sets, but in the second, it held the lead for most of the frame, before finally losing it due to multiple errors in a row. 

“This is the best Xavier team I’ve seen in the past four to five years,” Steinbach said. “I think they are really skilled and physically really tough.” 

Villanova then had to face Creighton on Sunday. The ‘Cats have only beaten the Blue Jays once in the past nine matches, and that did not change Sunday. Villanova only held one lead in the entirety of the match. 

“They have a great team.” Steinbach said, “They have a kid who is a Player of the Year candidate in Kendra Wait and Norah Sis. They also have a girl who was Freshman of the Year a couple of years ago in Keeley Davis.”

Crist led the Wildcats with eight kills, while Homer and freshman Tara Garvey both had six. Villanova overall had a .090 attack percentage compared to Creighton, who had an attack percentage of 0.320 and multiple players with more than 10 kills, including Sis with 12 and Ava Martin with 11.

Davis had eight kills as well, while Kendra Wait, the leader of the team, had 34 assists, five kills and two aces. 

Creighton held the lead in every statistical category during the match and sent the Wildcats back home with a 4-10 record, now 0-2 in Big East play. 

Villanova will be back home this weekend to play St. John’s (11-4, 2-0 Big East) and Seton Hall (11-3, 2-0 Big East). It will be the first conference home games of the year and will be played prior to Hoops Mania, so the team expects a crowd. 

“Friday night is going to be really fun,” Steinbach said. “We are looking forward to having a big crowd in here. Playing in Nevin with the gym packed is one of the most fun experiences our athletes get to have.”  

It starts with St John’s, who is coming off wins over Providence and UConn, and are home to recent Defensive Player of the Week in graduate student Rachele Rastelli. 

“I got into them a little this morning,” Steinbach said. “They are streaky, but they can be really tough, and they are physical.” 

The Seton Hall matchup is on Saturday. The Pirates are coming off of a pair of five set thrillers versus UConn and Providence as well. They have a strong attacker in junior Bianca Bucciarelli who against Providence led the team in kills, blocks and digs. 

“Everyone picked Seton Hall to finish last in the Big East, but they are 2-0 right now,” Steinbach said. “That will be a fun match on Saturday afternoon.”