Volleyball claims crown at Big Five Challenge



Claire Ferry

The volleyball team (10-3) avenged last year’s shortcoming and earned the bragging rights of the “Best in Philadelphia” last weekend. The Wildcats collected wins over Penn, La Salle and Temple in the Big 5 Challenge, only dropping one set in the three matches.

Tournament play began last Friday night with a match against Penn. ‘Nova ousted the Quakers in three sets, (25-19, 25-19, 25-14). After finding its rhythm, the team capitalized on its height advantage to dominate play at the net. Amanda Pederson-Henry and Claire Crutchfield delivered decisive kills at key moments, both contributing 12 total on the night. Allie Loitz also came on strong in the second set and ended with 10 kills.  

Competition continued on Saturday with a convincing victory against La Salle (25-19, 25-15, 25-16). The Wildcats secured their second sweep of the tournament with contributions from several members of the team. Loitz posted another well-rounded performance with 11 kills and 10 digs, while Lauren Carpenter added eight kills. Emma Pettit continued to distribute the ball well.

The team’s most challenging test of the weekend came against Temple Saturday night. The Wildcats sought to avenge the three-set loss from last year. According to defensive specialist/libero Makenzie Northrup, “We were very confident the first two games, but we were really excited to play Temple again because they beat us last year.” After dropping their first set of the weekend, the team came back strong in the next three games to prevail (20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21).  

Temple’s scrappy play and powerful attackers couldn’t disrupt the Wildcats’ tempo. Pettit once again distributed the ball wisely, collecting 47 assists on the night. As the quarterback of ‘Nova’s offense, she allowed ample opportunities for the team’s weapons to finish plays—Pederson-Henry and Crutchfield led with 12 kills each, while Loitz added 11 more. The long rallies that sustained the team’s momentum were fueled by the defensive presence of Northrup’s 21 digs and Anna Dwyer’s 10.

The team’s individual efforts did not go unnoticed throughout the weekend, either. Pettit was named the tournament MVP for her outstanding direction of the offense in all three matches, amassing a total of 115 assists over the weekend. Northrup was also named to the all-tournament team for her defensive contributions of 48 total digs. Her ability to step up and shoulder the libero responsibilities proves the Wildcats’ depth defensively, which will be invaluable in coming matches.

With the Big 5 Challenge wins, the team extends its winning streak to seven matches. “This provides us with a ton of momentum and excitement since this is the best preseason we’ve had in a few years,” said Northrup.  

The team’s streak will be tested on Friday as the team travels to Georgetown (6-7) to open Big East conference play. 

The Wildcats will draw upon last year’s season-ending loss to the Hoyas as fuel in their first of many conference matches. With such a successful start of non-conference play, ‘Nova will be one to watch as they compete in the Big East.