Oct. 19, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - In the start of a four-match home stand Villanova (10-13, 4-4 BIG EAST) took the opening set but wound up being defeated, 3-1, by DePaul (7-14, 2-6 BIG EAST) at Jake Nevin Field House on Friday night. The set scores in the win for the Blue Demons were 23-25, 25-22, 25-23 and 25-17 as DePaul notched its first victory against the Wildcats in eight tries.
"We knew that DePaul had played the toughest schedule in conference play thus far," Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach said. "We expected them to be better than their record would indicate and they certainly showed that in tonight's match."
The individual highlight of the night for the Wildcats was provided by junior libero Mariah Henley (Hockessin, Del.), who tied a career high with 34 digs and also surpassed 1,000 career digs during the first set.
"Mariah is the best libero we have seen out of the conference teams we have played so far," Steinbach said. "She was a defensive specialist for two years and we knew all along that she had the potential to be successful as a top BIG EAST libero. We have a chance to make it three straight years that a Villanova player has been the Libero of the Year."
Tonight's match marked the third time this season that Henley had at least 30 digs and the 13th time in 23 matches that she reached at least 20 digs. Henley began the evening leading the BIG EAST with 5.64 digs per set and pushed that figure up to 5.77 with tonight's effort.
Freshman outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.) led both teams with a match-high 15 kills while also contributing three block assists. Her first-year counterpart Colleen Hickey (West Chester, Pa.) and senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Fla.) added nine kills apiece for the Wildcats and freshman setter Emma Pettit (Ft. Collins, Colo.) distributed 40 assists while notching a double-double with 12 digs as well. Pettit added two kills and a team-best two aces.
The match was tied 1-1 after the teams split the first two sets and the turning point in the win for the Blue Demons did not come until the very end of the third set. There were 13 ties and four lead changes in that set, during which neither team ever had a lead of more than three points.
The final lead in the set for Villanova came after a kill by Andersen gave the Wildcats a 16-15 edge. DePaul won the next three points to go ahead, 18-16, but the back-and-forth set still had plenty of shifts in momentum to come. Villanova overcame deficits of 20-18 and 22-20, each time scoring two consecutive points to retie the score. The teams alternated points again and a kill by Hickey tied the score at 23-23 before DePaul received consecutive kills by Vesela Zapryanova and Abbie Fleener to close out the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
That momentum carried into the fourth set, as the Blue Demons pulled away from a 3-3 tie with a 9-1 run that established a commanding 12-4 lead. From that point on the Wildcats got no closer than six points before DePaul settled on a final margin of 25-17 in the set.
Fleener led the Blue Demons with 14 kills, while Natalie Rizzo (12) and Rachel Aumann (11) also reached double figures. Allyson Rooks paced the DePaul defense with 26 digs.
Villanova continues the home stand on Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. match against Notre Dame.
NOTES: Carpenter's 15 kills tonight are the most she has had against a BIG EAST opponent this season and the total was just one off her overall season high ... Freshman defensive specialist Michelle Adams (Sugar Land, Texas) had a similar statistical note with 14 digs, a conference season high and one away from her season high ... Pettit notched her sixth double-double (assists-digs) of the season and reached 40 assists in a match for the fifth time this year.