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Wildcats Battle to the End but Fall to Maryland, 3-0, in Season Opener
Junior libero Mariah Henley led Villanova with 14 digs against Maryland on Friday night.

Aug. 24, 2012

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VILLANOVA, Pa. - In a match that was far tighter than the number of sets played would suggest Villanova (0-1) was defeated 3-0 by Maryland (1-0) in its season opener at Jake Nevin Field House on Friday night. The scores of the three sets were 25-22, 25-19 and 30-28 in Friday's nightcap, as the Villanova Classic kicks off the 2012 season this weekend. New Hampshire tallied a 3-0 win over Robert Morris earlier in the evening to kick off the tournament.

A young group of Wildcats did not go down without a fight in any of the three sets. In the third set Villanova saw a 14-6 lead evaporate as the Terrapins rallied to eventually take their first lead of the set at 21-20. Before all was said and done, the Wildcats staved off three match points before Maryland could seal the outcome.

"Obviously we are young and we made some mistakes along the way that hurt us," Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach said. "There is a lot of potential though. The young class is going to be very good and there are just some things we need to iron out. We are going to be okay and we will keep getting better with every match."

Freshman middle blocker Gabby Pethokoukis (Western Springs, Ill.) led Villanova with eight kills and the team spread out its offense between four main targets. Senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Fla.) and junior outside hitter Carly Edwards (Okemos, Mich.) had seven kills apiece, while freshman outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.) added six kills.

A good indicator of how tightly the match was contested is the number of tie scores. There were 23 total ties in the match, including nine in the first and last sets alone. When the first set began the teams were tied at every point total from one through nine before the Terrapins pulled away with a big run.



Senior middle blocker CeCe Twitty (Scottsdale, Ariz.) had a kill to tie the score at 9-9 in the first set but Maryland then scored 10 consecutive points to take a commanding 19-9 lead. Pethokoukis had two kills late in the set and the Wildcats pulled to within 23-20 after five straight points but got no closer than the three-point margin.

In the second set Villanova led 7-6 when the Terrapins broke out for seven unanswered points to take a lead in the set that they never relinquished.

At the start of the third set all of the momentum shifted towards the Wildcats, who quickly raced out to a 6-0 lead. Pethokoukis had two kills in that run and Andersen added an ace to go along with three Maryland errors.

Villanova led the final set 17-11 but the score was eventually tied up at 19-19 to set in motion a frenetic close to the match. A kill by Andersen and an error by the Terrapins gave the Wildcats a 24-22 lead with a chance to clinch the set but Maryland registered three straight sets to retake the lead and set up the first match point.

Andersen had another kill to tie the score at 25-25 and, one player later, a kill by Edwards tied the score again at 26 apiece. Villanova led 27-26 after an ace by junior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.) and Edwards prevented the match from ending again with a kill that tied the score at 28-all. Consecutive kills for the Terrapins from Remy McBain and Adreene Elliott pushed Maryland into the win column.

Freshman setter Emma Pettit (Ft. Collins, Colo.) had 21 assists in her collegiate debut and was one of three first-year players in the Wildcats starting lineup. Pethokoukis and Carpenter also started and freshman defensive specialist Michelle Adams (Sugar Land, Texas) rounded out a quartet of players that got their first taste of collegiate action.

Mary Cushman led the Terrapins with 16 kills and Elliott added 12 kills in the winning effort.

Tomorrow evening Villanova plays Robert Morris at 5:30 p.m. and New Hampshire at 8 p.m. to conclude their first weekend of competition. Matches earlier in the day feature Maryland against New Hampshire at 10:30 a.m. as well as the Terrapins versus Robert Morris at 3:30 p.m.