Wildcats split pair of conference games on road

Meaghan Bedigian

Over Halloween weekend, the volleyball team (12-16, 5-8 Big East) traveled north to take on Providence (4-22, 0-12 Big East) and St. John’s (17-10, 6-6 Big East). These back-to-back conference matches resulted in a three-set victory over the Friars with scores of 25-15, 25-23 and 25-13 and a three-set defeat against the Red Storm with scores of 25-23, 25-15 and 25-21.

Next on the agenda, the Wildcats will travel to South Orange, N.Y., on Saturday for a rematch with Seton Hall (22-6, 10-3 Big East) at 7 p.m. Earlier this season, Villanova fell to the Pirates in four sets.

Senior outside hitter Molly O’Neil attributes the Wildcats’ success over Providence on Friday to their aggression and accuracy.

“We did what we do best,” O’Neil said. “We were taking big swings and playing very consistent volleyball.”

Wildcat offense was unstoppable against the Friars. The team logged a whopping 43 kills, 39 assists and six service aces. 

“The thing that gets our offense going is our serve receive, and our serve receive was just awesome,” O’Neil said.

With 13 kills and only one error on 23 attempts, junior outside hitter Lauren Carpenter led the Wildcat offense with a .522 hitting percentage, a career and season high.

Sophomore Claire Crutchfield and junior Brittany Rembert also had strong offensive showings. Crutchfield logged seven kills with one error on 13 attempts while Rembert posted six kills with one error on 12 attempts.

The driving force behind the abundance of kills were junior Emma Pettit and senior Allie DiBernardo with 20 and 16 assists respectively.

On the defensive end, the Wildcats had six team blocks and 52 digs, 18 of them being from starting junior libero Michelle Adams.

Despite the three-set blowout, the team struggled to take a large lead in the second set and won by a close, two-point margin.

“I think our biggest mistake was how we kind of let up a little in that second set,” O’Neil said. “Providence is the bottom team in our conference, but we still needed to focus on playing hard in every game.”

Overall, the three-set shutout over Providence was a confidence-booster for the Wildcats.

“On the road, you have fans that are rooting against you which fuels the fire,” O’Neil said. “There’s no better feeling than beating a team in their own home in front of their own fans and just ruining their day.”

On Saturday, the Wildcats fell short to St. John’s, but the team still has something to cheer about. Carpenter is now just 10 kills away from the 1000th kill of her career.

“Lauren’s just such a steady and consistent player,” O’Neil said. “She’s a great teammate and it’s nice for us to be able to support her. We want her to get that 1000th kill so much, so it’ll be an awesome experience when she actually gets it.”

Carpenter continuously has strong showings and posted a career-high of four service aces and logged 14 kills on 47 attempts with only four errors against the Red Storm. 

Additionally, Berendt posted eight kills on 19 attempts with just two errors and DiBernardo helped out on defense with 17 assists and five digs. Adams added 16 digs as well.

Even though the team beat St. John’s earlier this season in a close five-set match, the Wildcats’ 32 kills weren’t enough to overcome the Red Storm’s solid offense this time around.

“St. John’s was our first game of conference this year and I feel like the first time we played them we had this fire and weren’t hesitating at all because we had nothing to lose,” O’Neil said. “At St. John’s, we were a little hesitant and we needed more of an attack mentality.”

O’Neil said that losing the first game of the match messed with their heads.

“It’s really hard to come back and win when all you can think about was that you should have won the first game,” O’Neil said. “We needed to move on and understand that every point is another opportunity rather than just trying to get to 25 as fast as we possibly can.”

Now, the team is shifting its focus and energy into beating Seton Hall this Saturday.

O’Neil believes a strength of the women’s volleyball team is their outstanding teamwork and support of one another, especially compared to Seton Hall.

“Our chemistry is one of our biggest assets,” O’Neil said.

Regardless, the Wildcats are preparing for a tough match against the Pirates.

 “There is never a game against them that isn’t intense and I just want our team to pummel them,” O’Neil said. “We’re one of the hardest working teams in the Big East and we’re due for a good win.”