Sept. 14, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - Three different players reached double figures in kills but a 2-0 lead was not enough for Villanova (5-6) in a 3-2 loss to Gonzaga (7-4) in five sets at the ASU Sheraton Invitational at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday evening. After the Wildcats won the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-18 the Zags came all the way back and won the final three sets by scores of 25-15, 25-19 and 15-13.
The fourth and fifth sets in particular were closely contested as both sides attempted to gain control of the match for good. The fourth set featured 10 ties and six lead changes before Gonzaga scored seven of the last eight points to force the decisive fifth set. In that last set Villanova led 12-10 but then yielded the next four points to the Zags, who went ahead 14-12 and then traded the last two points of the match.
Junior outside hitter Carly Edwards (Okemos, Mich.) and freshman middle blocker Gabby Pethokoukis (Western Springs, Ill.) continued their strong efforts after each played well in the Wildcats opening match of the day earlier in the afternoon. Edwards led Villanova with 12 kills and had five total blocks (two solo, three assisted) against Gonzaga and Pethokoukis added 11 kills with only one error for a .357 hitting percentage. She also added five block assists in the match after having seven earlier in the day.
In the first two sets combined Edwards and Pethokoukis totaled six kills apiece and the Wildcats took advantage of inaccurate hitting by the Zags to grab the lead in the match. As a team Gonzaga had a negative hitting percentage through the first two sets, including 10 errors with only six kills in the second set.
Freshman outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.) and freshman setter Emma Pettit (Ft. Collins, Colo.) each had double-doubles for Villanova, with Carpenter finishing the match with 11 kills and a season-high 22 digs. She notched her fourth double-double this season and also surpassed 20 digs in a match for the first time in her collegiate career. Pettit, meanwhile, recorded 44 assists and 10 digs for her second double-double of the season and also her second match with over 40 assists.
Villanova lost the first two points of the match but then came back with four straight points to take a 4-2 lead in the first set. That advantage was never relinquished and the Wildcats eventually led by as many as eight points (18-10) before comfortably settling on the final margin. Villanova was led with five kills in the set from Edwards and four from Carpenter along the way to registering 16 kills total.
Both teams made a run early in the second set but the Wildcats later ran off 10 consecutive points to decide the frame. Villanova led 3-2 but then fell behind 7-3 after the Zags relled off five straight points. Gonzaga stretched that lead to a 10-4 margin but the Wildcats pulled back within one point at 12-11. Four points later the Zags lead stood at 15-12 when Villanova broke away for a 10-0 spurt and a commanding 22-15 lead. Carpenter had a kill to start the run and senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Colo.) added consecutive kills to tie the score at 15-15. Andersen and Pethokoukis each added one more kill during the run and sophomore defensive specialist Ally Moskitis (Long Beach, Calif.) delivered a pair of service aces.
Moskitis finished the match with three aces, 13 digs and two assists and junior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.) added 26 digs to pace the Wildcats defensively.
Gonzaga got on track with its hitting in the third set and hit .239 (16 kills, five errors) to get on the board and begin its comeback. Villanova had just one lead in the set and that came on a ball-handling error that the Zags were whistled for on the very first point. The score was tied 4-4 but a Wildcats service error gave Gonzaga a 5-4 lead that it would hang on to for the rest of the set.
Villanova has two more matches to come in this weekend's tournament and will square off against Florida Atlantic on Saturday morning (9:30 a.m.) as well as UC-Riverside later in the day (5 p.m.).