Volleyball Ends Road Trip With 3-0 Loss to Southern Miss
Sep 7, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. - After the excitement of playing in front of a full house one night earlier Villanova (1-4) was unable to overcome losing two close sets and was defeated by Southern Miss (4-2) in three sets at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles swept the match, 3-0, by scores of 25-23, 27-25 and 25-16.
The first two sets featured nearly even play from both sides but each time Southern Miss had the final answer to take the sets by the narrowest of margins. The momentum stayed with the Golden Eagles for good in the final set and a decisive 11-3 run closed out the match.
"It was obviously a frustrating day for us," Wildcats head coach Josh Steinbach said. "Southern Miss played really well and they caught us off guard a little bit with the way they hit the ball. We had to fight so hard just to try and get back in the match and we just weren't able to overcome that deficit."
For the second straight day the Villanova offense was paced by freshmen Claire Crutchfield (Falls Church, Va.) and Michaela Berendt (Olympia, Wash.). Crutchfield led the Wildcats with 15 kills while hitting .333 against the Golden Eagles and Berendt notched seven kills with only one error and a .353 attack percentage.
Senior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.) had a match-high 19 digs in a strong defensive effort. In the process she moved up two spots on the Villanova all-time digs list and now sits in sixth place in school history. Henley has 1,259 digs and during the match passed both Pam Clifford (1,251) and Celine Nguyen (1,254). Next up ahead of her in the Wildcats record book is Stacy Evans (1994-97) with 1,284 digs.
Both teams displayed their best hitting of the day in the first set, when there were 15 ties and seven lead changes in a constant seesaw battle. Crutchfield was on fire in set with eight kills and Villanova hit .353 as a team with 15 kills and only three errors. Southern Miss virtually matched that level of accuracy, with 19 kills and five errors for a .326 attack percentage.
Late in the opening set the Wildcats held leads of 21-20 and 22-21 but three straight points by the Golden Eagles brought up set point with a 24-22 score. Crutchfield put down her eighth kill of the set to get Villanova back to within a point but Southern Miss responded with another point of its own to take a 1-0 lead.
In the second set the Wildcats used a 14-4 run to surge to a 15-8 lead. Crutchfield and sophomore outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.) had two kills apiece in that run, while sophomore middle blocker Brittany Rembert (Orlando, Fla.) had two kills and also teamed up with senior outside hitter Carly Edwards (Okemos, Mich.) for consecutive block assists.
The Golden Eagles scored four straight points to trim the Villanova deficit to 15-12 and later pulled even at 19-19. From that point until the end of the set there were seven ties and five lead changes, with two of the ties (24-24 and 25-25) coming when Southern Miss staved off Wildcats set points. Kills by Jasmine Crowell and Quinci Hayward of the Golden Eagles prevented Villanova from knotting the match at 1-1, while consecutive Wildcats attack errors ended the set in favor of Southern Miss.
Villanova led the third set 11-9 but the Golden Eagles scored four straight points and then never relinquished the lead. It wound up being a 16-5 spurt to close the set by Southern Miss, which hit .257 (13-4-35) in the set compared with the Wildcats .050 (11-9-40) hitting percentage.
Villanova returns to action for a road match this Tuesday, when the Wildcats will visit Lehigh at 7 p.m. Next weekend Villanova will play in the Maryland Invitational and take on the host Terrapins in addition to George Mason and New Hampshire.