Oct. 3, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Unbeaten at home, the Villanova volleyball team (9-5, 1-0) puts its five-match winning streak on the line this weekend when it hosts a BIG EAST Conference weekend at the Jake Nevin Field House. The Wildcats will play DePaul on Friday and Marquette on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
"Two teams that are similarly very good offensively that's going to be hard for us to handle on back-to-back nights," head coach Josh Steinbach said. "We've got to defend well, serve and pass better than both those teams and we've got to make sure were aware those teams are good and going to make runs on us so we've got to stay the course and ride that."
Villanova is fresh off its first BIG EAST match of the year where it defeated Georgetown, 3-1 (26-24, 23-25, 25-21, 25-15), and has been playing its best volleyball heading into conference play. The Wildcats have improved their attack and efficiency during this streak, outhitting its opponents by a wide margin of .210 to .172.
DePaul (13-1, 0-1) is coming off their first loss of the season against Marquette after starting with 13 straight wins for the first time in program history. The Wildcats have had great success against the Blue Demons in the past and are 7-1 all-time against the BIG EAST foe.
"DePaul's had a really good run this season," Steinbach added. "They took a really good Marquette team to five sets, so certainly they're going to come in here super confident. They've got a couple of attackers that can really score, their middles are hitting a high percentage, the kid on the right side is scoring really well and there outsides are efficient as well. Offensively, they're difficult to handle and present a bunch of challenges that we're working to prepare for right now."
Marquette who was picked only six votes behind No. 22 Creighton to finish second in the BIG EAST preseason coaches' poll, is currently 8-4 on the season, however, all four of their losses have come to top-15 opponents. The Golden Eagles edged DePaul, 3-2, in their only conference match of the season earning setter Elizabeth Koberstein BIG EAST Player of the Week honors after helping Marquette hit a conference high, .387, for the match.
"They've played an unbelievable schedule against some of the top teams in the country," Steinbach added. "They're very talented and very young. Autumn Bailey had one of the best matches we'll see in our conference last weekend against DePaul. There other outside hitter is hitting at a high percentage as well, they've got a lefty on the right side that is scoring really well and their middles are very capable.
Similar to Steinbach earlier this season at Lehigh, Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky reached his historic 100th win at DePaul.
Senior libero Mariah Henley currently leads the BIG EAST in digs, 281, and digs/set with 5.20. If the Wildcats are going to seek their first 2-0 start in conference play since the 2011 season when it began the year with four consecutive victories, Villanova will rely on the captain who was an integral part of that team that made it to the conference tournament.
All home matches will be broadcasted live on Nova National All-Access.
For more information on the event, be sure to follow @NovaVolleyball on Twitter and Instagram and like the Villanova Volleyball Facebook page as well.