Women’s Volleyball successful season comes to an end



Claire Ferry

The volleyball team’s fairytale season came to an end last Friday in a heartbreaking four-set loss to Dayton.   ‘Nova fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament to the Flyers by a score of 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-23.  Even so, the team concluded the season with the most wins since the 1993 squad.

The Wildcats came out strong in Penn State’s Rec Hall, defeating Dayton after a tight first set.  ‘Nova had a chance to secure the second set as well, but the Flyers went on a 5-1 run to even the count. The match was neck-and-neck for the last two sets, but Dayton’s offense proved too much.  The Wildcats fought back from an 18-14 deficit in the fourth game to tie the score, but the Flyers nailed the final two points to take the match.

Three Wildcats posted double-digit kills, with Allie Loitz leading the team with seventeen. Emma Pettit delivered a double-double with 42 assists and 10 digs, quarterbacking the offense as always. ‘Nova even delivered defensively at the net, led by Gabby Pethokoukis’ five blocks.  However, the team’s 12 total blocks weren’t enough to slow Dayton’s Alaina Turner and her 24 kills.

Following the Villanova win, Dayton lost to Penn State in the second round the next day.  

The other two Big East teams fared well in the tournament.  Marquette beat the University of North Iowa in five sets but lost to Minnesota in the second round.  Sixteenth-ranked Creighton’s NCAA tournament appearace continues on as they face the top seed, Southern California, in the round of sixteen.

The loss to Dayton doesn’t taint ‘Nova’s impressive season, however.  The team went as far as the 1997 team, which lost to Northern Illinois in the first round.  

Several Wildcats ranked among the best in the Big East conference in their respective categories.  Pettit capped her notable senior season ranked 24th in the nation and second in the conference for assists per set. Pethokoukis ranked second in the Big East for her hitting percentage, and Loitz led the conference in aces per set. Combining for a total of 425 digs, the duo of Adams and Allie Fitzgerald made up one of the strongest back lines.

Even with six seniors graduating, ‘Nova looks to reload for next year.  The team returns five starters and will benefit from the leadership of Pethokoukis and Claire Crutchfield.  Pettit’s vacancy will be hard to replace, but current freshman Ashley Knight and recent signee 

Emma Decker will look to fill the void at setter. The Wildcats will rebuild with one of the best recruiting classes of Head Coach Josh Steinbach’s tenure.  Three of the four signees are over six foot, which will only bolster ‘Nova’s dominance at the net. 

Without a doubt, the seniors have left their mark on this volleyball program.  Their freshman year in 2012, the team went 11-19 overall and didn’t qualify for post-season conference play.  

By their senior season, the team improved to 25-9 overall and made the trip to the NCAA finals.

After such a successful season, the team looks to take the momentum into rebuilding for next year.