Volleyball Defeats Local Rivals at Temple Tourney


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Averi Salvador was named to the Big East Honor Roll after 57 digs over the weekend.

Zac Tipton, Staff Writer

The Wildcats competed in the Temple Invitational over the weekend, falling to Princeton in three sets before winning the next two over Temple and Penn. 

Villanova entered this tournament having won nine straight sets last week. However, Princeton attacked in a way that Villanova couldn’t stop, as the Wildcats lost in three sets, 12-25, 21-25 and 20-25. Villanova bounced back and was able to hold on to beat Temple in five sets, 25-17, 25-19, 18-25, 23-25 and 15-8. The ‘Cats continued to defeat Penn in a four set victory, 21-25, 30-28, 25-23 and 25-19, to move to 8-4 on the season.

Villanova took the short drive down to Temple Friday night to face a tough Princeton team that likes to attack and has some incredible scorers. 

“They have some players who can score, and they are going to make teams beat them,” Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach said. “They aren’t going to beat themselves.” 

Princeton did just that, with only one error in the first set to Villanova’s nine. Princeton took an 8-0 lead and never looked back, winning the first set, 25-12, to snap Villanova’s nine set win streak. 

The second set was very back and forth, with seven lead changes. Both teams fought hard to even the score at 21-21, before the Tigers won four straight points to end it, 25-21. 

The third and final set was the same as the rest of the set, as Princeton took a 20-18 lead and then scored three straight points, which gave them enough room to finish off the match, 25-20. For Villanova, Sanaa Barnes, who Steinbach believes “will only get better as the season goes on,” led the ‘Cats with nine kills. Belle Morgan had 31 assists. Elena Montgomery finished with a team leading 12 kills for Princeton. Villanova fell to 6-4 after that match.

Villanova had little time to dwell on the loss, facing Temple that same night. Villanova wasn’t going to lose two in a row, especially to its Philadelphia rivals, and came into the game ready to play from the beginning. It took a 15-8 lead and stayed the course, winning 25-17 in that first set thanks to four kills each from Riley Homer and Barnes. 

Villanova wasn’t done there, as it never lost the lead the entire second set, winning, 25-19. Homer continued to dominate with six kills, continuing an incredible season that hasn’t surprised her coach at all. 

“She was a talented player coming in,” Steinbach said. “I think now that we have a much more normal season, we’ve been able to see what she can do.” 

Temple came back in the third. With the game tied at nine, the Owls got a kill that allowed them to hold the lead the rest of the set, winning 25-18. The fourth was much more intense, as Villanova held the lead 10-6, but Temple came back. After four lead changes, the Owls took the lead and never gave it back, sending it to a fifth set, 25-23.

In the fifth, Villanova had a big 4-0 run to take a 9-5 lead and would hold on to it the rest of the way, winning the set and the match, 15-8. Homer and Booth combined for 36 kills and 11 blocks, while Averi Salvador had 21 digs. 

On Saturday, Villanova took on another hometown rival, defeating UPenn in four sets. The game started quickly, with five lead changes in the first set, before Penn led, 17-16. It did not give up that lead, winning the set, 25-21. 

Villanova would come back in what might be the longest set of the season. Penn took a 5-2 lead and continued to lead up until 19-15, when Villanova went on a 5-0 run to take the lead. From that point on it was blow after blow, and the score tied up eight times. In her first appearance of the season, junior Kathleen Johnson sealed the set with four kills down the stretch to give Villanova a 30-28 set win. 

The third set was also back and forth, but with the set tied at 23, Villanova won the final two points to win the set 25-23. Villanova dominated the final set. After jumping out to an 8-2 lead, they never blinked and won the set 25-19. Andrea Campos was huge in that match, with a career high 46 assists, and freshman outside hitter Rose Crist had 10 kills. 

Villanova goes into conference play with an 8-4 record and starts Big East competition with two matches next weekend at home. On Friday, the Wildcats take on Marquette (9-2), which is always a force in the Big East. On Saturday, Villanova finishes the weekend with a matchup with DePaul (7-5).