Sept. 1, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In a tightly contested defensive battle Villanova (4-1) broke away for a 10-1 run to finish off a 3-2 win over Temple (3-3) in the Big Five Tournament at the Palestra on Saturday afternoon. The late surge gave the Wildcats a 15-6 edge in the decisive fifth set after the teams split the first four sets by scores of 23-25, 25-21, 25-19 and 24-26. Villanova won its fourth straight match and extended its winning streak in this local tournament to eight in a row.
The match turned after a kill by the Owls tied the fifth set at 5-5. Temple committed a service error on the next point and the Wildcats went on to tally five unanswered points to take control of the set with a 10-5 lead. A kill by the Owls momentarily stopped the run but Villanova sealed the outcome with five more points in a row.
Senior middle blocker CeCe Twitty (Scottsdale, Ariz.) played a part in three consecutive points that stretched a 6-5 lead into a 9-5 margin. She and senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Fla.) teamed up for a block, Twitty followed with a kill and then was credited with another block assist along with junior outside hitter Carly Edwards (Okemos, Mich.). Twitty had one kill and three of her team-high six block assists in the fifth set.
For most of the afternoon the teams were locked in somewhat of a defensive stalemate and both sides surpassed 100 digs in the match. Villanova had five players reach double figures in digs, led by junior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.) with 23 and freshman setter Emma Pettit (Ft. Collins, Colo.) with 22 digs.
Temple won the first set and the Wildcats evened the match at 1-1 in the second set but in the first 91 points played neither team ever had a lead of more than three points. That changed on a kill by Andersen late in the second set which gave Villanova a 24-20 advantage. Five points earlier the Wildcats held only a slim 20-19 advantage but then won five of the last six points in the set. Andersen had four kills and freshman middle blocker Brittany Rembert (Orlando, Fla.) added another kill to account for the last five Villanova points in the set.
Andersen reached 20 kills for the second time in her career and led the Wildcats with 20 kills and a .319 hitting percentage in the match. She also had seven digs and three total blocks, freshman outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.) added a double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs and Pettit effectively ran the offense with 48 assists. Twitty and Edwards each chipped in eight kills.
With the match tied at one set apiece Villanova pulled away from a 4-4 tie and later an 8-6 lead to go up 18-11 in the third set en route to a comfortable 25-19 scoring margin. Rembert and Carpenter each had three kills without committing an error in the set and the Wildcats hit .359 as a team to go up 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was the closest of the match and there were 14 ties and five lead changes before the Owls finally scored the last two points of the set. The score was tied 20-20 when Temple scored four of the next five points to take a 24-21 lead but Villanova nearly finished the match in four sets by rallying with three straight points to forge a 24-all tie. Twitty had two kills on either end of a kill by Andersen to draw the Wildcats even before an Owls kill and a Villanova attack error sent the match to five sets.
Elyse Burkert had 21 kills and 14 digs to lead Temple offensively and Jingyu Zhang had 25 digs to lead three Owls with 20 or more in the match.
Later on Saturday night the Wildcats look to capture the tournament title when they play Penn starting at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Andersen surpassed 900 career kills in the second set and finished the match with 911 kills in her career ... Her 900th gave Villanova a 22-19 lead in the second set ... The only previous time she reached 20 kills in a match was also against Temple ... She had a career best 22 kills versus the Owls on September 5, 2009 ... The last time the Wildcats had over 100 digs in a match was in a 3-2 loss to Missouri last season on September 17, 2011 in a tournament at American ... Villanova has not had more than 102 digs in a match since it had 103 on September 6, 2011 in a four-set win over Delaware ... That match against the Blue Hens was also the last time the Wildcats had five players reach double figures in digs ... Pettit's 48 assists and 22 digs marked the first "40-20" match for a Villanova player since sophomore Allie DiBernardo (Coto de Caza, Calif.) had 47 and 24 in a 3-2 win over Ohio last season on August 27, 2011.