Oct. 27, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The trio of freshman outside hitter Lauren Carpenter (Lakewood, Colo.), senior outside hitter Krista Andersen (Lakeland, Fla.) and senior middle blocker CeCe Twitty (Scottsdale, Ariz.) all hit the ball extremely well and led Villanova (11-14, 5-5 BIG EAST) to a 3-1 victory over Syracuse (9-16, 1-9 BIG EAST) at Jake Nevin Field House on Saturday afternoon. As a team the Wildcats produced a .250 attack percentage for the match, their highest percentage against a conference opponent this season.
Carpenter led the way with 15 kills, Twitty added 12 kills and four blocks and Andersen chipped in with 11 kills, two blocks and a pair of service aces. Those three players combined for 38 kills with a .311 attack percentage and Villanova won the final three sets to earn the victory. The set scores were 18-25, 25-21, 25-22 and 25-14 for the Wildcats, who improved to 6-3 at home this season.
"This was a win we absolutely had to have," Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach said. "Coming down the stretch it looks like we need three or four wins to get into the BIG EAST Championship. This was the first step. We play Syracuse again in a couple of weeks so it was important to show we can beat them here and now we will have to be a little bit better at their place in two weeks."
Freshman setter Emma Pettit (Ft. Collins, Colo.) had 45 assists, nine digs, three kills and two aces in a well-played match. Her assist total was her second-highest of the season and the most assists she has had versus a BIG EAST foe. She spread out offensive chances throughout the Wildcats entire lineup and the team was bolstered by the play of freshman outside hitter Colleen Hickey (West Chester, Pa.) and freshman middle blocker Brittany Rembert (Orlando, Fla.), who had nine and five kills, respectively.
"Emma set the ball really well today and we also passed extremely well. If we can pass the ball that well we are going to be better offensively and that was the case today. Colleen and Brittany each played great. They both work hard and take good swings without getting intimidated by the situation or the opponent. We have missed some of our players who are out but we have good people off the bench who can help out and they have done a good job."
There were a number of similarities between the two teams statistically entering the match and it came as no surprise that the first set began as a back-and-forth affair. There were five ties and three lead changes that led up to a 16-16 tie in that opening frame before the Orange closed the set with a 9-2 run to earn a 25-18 win and strike the first blow in the match.
In the second set Villanova jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed while posting a 25-21 win to knot the match at one set apiece. Andersen got going in the second set with five kills on nine attempts (no errors) and the Wildcats put down a total of 16 kills, with Pettit accumulating 13 assists in the set.
Both teams battled in the third set to gain control of both the score in that set as well as the match itself. There were eight ties and three lead changes before Villanova scored the final three points, pulling away from a 22-22 tie to go up 2-1 and take the lead in the match. Pettit had 12 more assists in the third set and the Wildcats hit .314 as a team while getting four kills apiece from Carpenter and Hickey. It was the third straight set that Pettit had a double-figure assist total and a kill by Hickey accounted for the final point.
Villanova had all of the momentum in the fourth set and took leads of 6-1 and 11-3 en route to an 11-point margin of victory. Twitty and Carpenter combined for nine kills with only one error in the set as the Wildcats closed out the match and evened their conference record at .500 for the year.
"We did a better job of not giving up super long runs today," Steinbach said. "In the first set we gave up a big run and that makes it tough to come back. The last three sets we had a much better ebb and flow and we were able to go on a couple of big runs to finish it in the fourth set."
Villanova is back at home on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. to face Marquette.
NOTES: Saturday was the Wildcats annual Dig Pink match ... The team wore pink shirts during warm-ups and the coaching staff wore pink polo shirts during the match ... In addition Villanova sold t-shirts to raise money that was donated to the Side Out Foundation, which raises money to support breast cancer awareness and research.