Volleyball Goes 1-1 Over Weekend


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Riley Homer (No. 6) had 11 kills against Providence.

Zac Tipton, Staff Writer

Having lost six of its last seven games, Villanova volleyball needed a win. The Wildcats finally secured that win beating Providence in four sets (20-25, 25-21. 25-20, 25-18). This victory allowed Villanova to sweep the season series against the Friars and give the team its third win in conference play.

However, the winning streak did not last long, as UConn beat Villanova (7-17, 3-9 Big East) the next night in four sets (20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-17). UConn has now won both games this year versus the ‘Cats.

Head coach Josh Steinbach was happy to get a win but thought the team didn’t play well during the match. 

“Every time you get a win, it’s a reason to celebrate,” Steinbach said. “Excited to get that win here at home. It’s one of those matches where I don’t think any team played great, but I thought we did some things better.”

The Wildcats did not start out the first match as well as they were hoping. They lost the first set in a back-and-forth affair because Providence went on a run of six in a row to end up winning, 25-20. It didn’t take long for Villanova to bounce back and put it out of reach. The ‘Cats absolutely dominated the next three sets, having big leads, and even when Providence would try to close the gap, Villanova put it away.

Villanova did not have a good defensive start to the game. The Wildcats could not get blocks at all, and Providence seemed to be taking advantage of height differences throughout the entire game, which caused Steinbach to make changes. He brought in senior Belle Morgan to set. 

“I think we got Belle [Morgan] in the front row instead of Andrea [Campos],” Steinbach said. “Dre is not very physical, so when we go to Belle to sit the front row portion, it gives us size at the net. So, that was conscious in that regard. I thought Providence was doing a good job taking advantage of our small setter, so we had to make a change there.”

Junior Riley Homer had an incredible game with 11 kills, a .467 attack percentage and an ace. She was the driving force of an offense that had been stagnant over the past few weeks. Kiera Booth had a great game with 11 kills as well. Tara Garvey continued her strong run with 10 kills and two blocks. 

“Tara has a special arm,” Steinbach said. “She’s a physical player: she can play above the net, she’s strong and she hits the ball really hard.”

The UConn game was the exact opposite. Villanova took home the first set and had a lead late in the second, but the Huskies came back to win that set before taking home the next two. 

This was a game when Villanova looked primed for an upset in the first two but ran out of gas. 

“I think where we are in our season, we don’t think we have it,” Steinbach said. “We know that every set no matter the score is something we are going to have to work for. You can’t just play half a set and have a six point lead and then cruise. That’s not how this game works, but we were in a good position. The second set is a set you got to be able to finish off, and we didn’t. This is characteristic of a team that’s 3-9 in conference play. A 9-3 team finishes off that set.” 

Booth led the team in kills in this match with 11, while Morgan and Campos combined for 34 assists. Four different players had 10 or more digs for Villanova: sophomore Elizabeth Feczko with 17, junior Taryn Whittingham with 13, Homer with 11 and Campos with 10. 

Villanova travels to face DePaul (7-17, 3-9 Big East) on Friday before heading to Milwaukee to face “the best Marquette team I’ve ever seen,” according to Steinbach. Marquette (20-2, 11-1 Big East) is ranked 17th in the country.