Sept. 1, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In the final match of the Big Five Tournament on Saturday night Villanova (4-2) was swept by host Penn (2-1) in three sets at the Palestra, falling by scores of 25-14, 25-23 and 25-23 to suffer its only loss of the weekend. Junior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.) was chosen for the All-Tournament Team and the Wildcats finished in third place as a team in the matchup of local teams.
Henley had 60 digs spread across three matches in the tournament and also chipped in 10 assists and a pair of aces for Villanova to earn the all-tournament team selection. She had 23 digs in back-to-back matches against La Salle and Temple to start the weekend and recorded 14 digs against the Quakers in the Wildcats third match.
Penn withstood late runs by Villanova in the second and third sets to close out the match and combined a strong defensive effort with inconsistent hitting by the Wildcats to decide the outcome. Despite the match lasting only three sets the Quakers still had five players with 11 or more digs and Villanova hit just .063 as a team in the match.
In the opening set the Wildcats committed nine attack errors and Penn stretched a 13-12 lead with six straight points along the way to taking a 1-0 lead in the match. Villanova recovered and had just 10 hitting errors combined in the final two sets - including only three in the last set - but the Quakers did enough late in those frames to hang on.
Penn led the second set 21-14 but the Wildcats twice got within a single point at 23-22 and 24-23 before the Quakers got a final kill to end the set. The last set followed a similar script as Villanova pulled even at 17-17, lost the next three points and eventually trailed 23-20 before again cutting the deficit to one point at 24-23. A service error by the Wildcats accounted for the final point of the match.
Freshman middle blocker Gabby Pethokoukis (Western Springs, Ill.) did not enter the match until the second set but she still wound up leading all players with seven total blocks, including two solo blocks. She also added four kills on seven attempts without an error. Freshman outside hitter Colleen Hickey (West Chester, Pa.) had five kills and four blocks and junior outside hitter Carly Edwards (Okemos, Mich.) led the team with six kills.
On the defensive end freshman defensive specialist Michelle Adams (Sugar Land, Texas) led Villanova with 15 digs and was one of four players in double figures. In addition to the 14 digs by Henley, sophomore setter Allie DiBernardo (Coto de Caza, Calif.) also had 14 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Ally Moskitis (Long Beach, Calif.) added 13.
Emma White had 10 kills and 18 digs to help lead Penn to the win.
The final team standings in the tournament were determined using a tiebreaker based on winning percentage in individual sets. Villanova, Penn and Temple all went 2-1 for the weekend and the Owls were named the team champion based on going 8-4 (.667) in individual sets. Penn was 7-4 (.636) and the Wildcats were 6-5 (.545).
Villanova travels to Yale next weekend to play three matches in the Yale Invitational, beginning on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. with a contest against the host Bulldogs.
NOTES: Villanova is 9-3 (.750) all-time in the Big Five Tournament, including 8-1 over the last three years ... Senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Fla.) led the Wildcats with 32 kills in this weekend's tournament, while senior middle blocker CeCe Twitty (Scottsdale, Ariz.) had a team-high 15 total blocks.