VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Villanova University volleyball team opened practice this week, anxious to get started on their 2017 season.
Losing four graduating seniors from last year’s team, the Wildcats bring back a strong core of twelve student-athletes for their 2017 campaign. Senior outside hitter Allie Loitz (Bonita, Calif.), a 2016 All-BIG EAST first team selection and 2017 preseason All-BIG EAST selection, looks to lead the team alongside senior defensive specialist/libero Allison Fitzgerald (St. Louis, Mo.). In her junior season, Loitz led Villanova in kills and points with 347 and 412.5, respectively. Her 3.58 kills/set and 4.25 points/set landed her in the top 5 for the BIG EAST in each category.
Other key players returning include sophomore setter Emma Decker (LaGrange, Ill.), junior middle blocker Amanda Pedersen-Henry (Murrieta, Calif.) and sophomore libero Regan Lough (Riverside, Calif.). Decker’s freshmen season finished with a team-high 1,163 assists and an impressive 10.97 assists/set. She also averaged 4.88 digs/set in BIG EAST matches. Her 10.97 assists/set was second in the BIG EAST and fourth in the country among all freshmen, while her 4.88 digs/set was first in conference play. Pedersen-Henry contributed to the Wildcats success in many different categories, leading the team with 88 blocks while also finishing second in kills (297) and points (343). Lough’s 443 digs last season were a team high, and her 4.14 digs/set was good enough to finish fourth in the conference.
Three freshmen join Villanova for the 2017 season. Outside hitter Jenna Greenberg (Ranch Palos Verdes, Calif.), outside hitter Mallory Potts (San Antonio, Texas) and defensive specialist/libero Sarah Allman (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) all look to make a strong impact in helping the Wildcats succeed.
When asked about the upcoming season, Coach Josh Steinbach stated, “I’m extremely excited. We have the pieces to have a very good year and I am anxious to see how those pieces come together.” When speaking on the team and its’ leadership, he said, “Allie Loitz and Allie Fitzgerald are two excellent seniors that have the experience and mentality to be great leaders. Returning as many players as we are this year, we should be able to have most of our systems in place very early. We should be able to hit the ground running.”
Villanova opens the season on the weekend of August 25th at the University of Virginia Tournament. They will face off against Liberty (4 p.m.) on the 25th and have games against Hofstra (10 a.m.) and Virginia (7 p.m) on the 26th. The Wildcats then travel to California the weekend of September 1st for the University of San Diego tournament where they will have matches against Texas, San Diego and Georgia Tech. Their first home matches come on the weekend of September 8th, where the team will host the Villanova Classic featuring Albany, UConn and Princeton.
For more information on the Villanova volleyball team, visit Villanova.com.