Volleyball Drops Two Big East Matchups


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Riley Homer recorded nine kills in the team’s matchup with DePaul.

Zac Tipton, Staff Writer

Villanova volleyball arrived back on campus after dropping six straight sets on the road this weekend. It lost in a winnable game to a reeling DePaul team and then lost to the 17th ranked team in the country, Marquette. 

The Wildcats, who fell to 3-11 in conference play and 7-19 overall, embarked on their second-to-last road trip of the year, visiting DePaul in Chicago and Marquette in Milwaukee. DePaul was coming off an 0-2 weekend but one where it took Butler and Marquette to five sets each. However, the Blue Demons were still 3-9 in conference play, and Villanova could not beat them, losing in straight sets 25-22, 25-19, 25-20. 

Head coach Josh Steinbach knew how disappointing DePaul’s season had been and thought of this as a winnable game.

“DePaul is the most underachieving team in the league,” Steinbach said. “We thought they would be a top-four team in the league after the year they had last year and with everyone coming back. This is always a tough matchup, but this was a match we had hoped to win and stay relevant, but it’s not the way it went.” 

The Blue Demons had control of this one the entire way except for a late tie in the first set. Villanova never held a big lead in this game, and DePaul cruised in the final two sets to down the ‘Cats.

Juniors Kiera Booth and Riley Homer led Villanova with 10 and nine kills, respectively, while graduate Izzy Plummer got four kills in her lone set. Junior Andrea Campos also put up 24 assists along with two aces. DePaul’s Jill Pressly and Bailey Nelson combined for 33 kills as a duo while Maggie Nelson led the Blue Demons in both assists (38) and digs (8). 

In the second game of the week, Villanova had to face a two-loss Marquette team that is currently ranked 17th in the coach’s poll. While Villanova played tough and didn’t really get hammered in any one set, Marquette was still able to cruise through it, including a run of 10 straight points in the middle of the second set. 

“We are at the point in the season where we don’t look at wins and losses anymore,” Steinbach said. “We look at individual games and ask if we did what we needed to do. We did some positive things over the weekend, but it’s more frustration over anything else. When you look at that stretch, we were giving them easy balls for 10 straight points, and they have the firepower to kill us with that, which they did.”

Sophomore Rose Crist led the team with 10 kills. Marquette got 12 kills from Aubrey Hamilton. Sophomore Ellery Gray came in in place of Campos early on and was huge for the Wildcats, notching 24 assists. 

“Ellery had an incredible week of practice,” Steinbach said. “So, we threw her in there with Andrea struggling, and I thought she played well. We just let her roll and she was one of the few bright spots for sure.” 

Villanova heads back home for its final home matches of the year. Thursday is Jam the Jake, which is always one of the craziest games of the season. The Wildcats will face Georgetown, which has lost 10 straight games, and its last win was against Villanova.

“Georgetown week is always a big week,” Steinbach said. “I don’t know what the atmosphere will be like, but hopefully we get a bunch of kids in here having a good time.”

On Saturday, the Wildcats will face Butler for Senior Night. Butler has won three of five and is even in conference play this season. Villanova took the Bulldogs to four sets in the previous meeting.

This year, Villanova will honor four seniors and a grad student: Maddie Schieder, Anastasia Galanou, Belle Morgan, Kathleen Johnson and Plummer. However, Johnson will not be playing due to an injury that’s kept her out most of the year. Steinbach noted that since Villanova isn’t in a position to compete, this Senior Night will be a lot different. 

“We are going to make sure we get those kids an opportunity to get what they want to have happen for them on Senior Night,” Steinbach says. “We will talk to them before the match and figure out what it is what they want. In a year where we are competing, it wouldn’t have been any different, but different circumstances this year.”