The Wildcats got back on track Saturday night. After losing back-to-back games to Xavier and Butler last weekend, Villanova swept the Seton Hall Pirates to break the dry spell.
The Wildcats won in straight sets, beating Seton Hall 25-19, 25-18, 25-13.
“We lost two in a row last weekend, feels good to come back and right that ship,” Villanova head coach Josh Steinbach said. “We played pretty clean, it’s a good win. Seton Hall has been a hard rival for us over the years so we feel pretty good about that.”
Villanova was paced by strong performances from Emma Pettit and Claire Crutchfield. Pettit assisted on 29 of the Wildcats’ 39 kills. Meanwhile, Crutchfield led the attack with a game-high 11 kills.
“Claire has one of the best arms in the league,” Coach Steinbach said. “When she’s on, she’s as good as it gets.”
The Wildcats fell behind early in the first set. After initially grabbing the lead, Seton Hall countered with a 4-0 run to get out in front. Villanova answered back with a 4-0 run of its own to take a 15-13 lead. From there, the Wildcats had a couple of spurts in order to bolster their lead.
Later in the set, down 23-16, Seton Hall’s Amanda Hansen scored a kill in order to begin a last-second comeback attempt. A couple of attack errors by Allie Loitz gave the Pirates a bit of hope, but that was quickly taken away by Lauren Carpenter. Loitz would make up for her earlier mistakes with the set-winning ace to give Villanova the first set.
The second set began much closer than the first. It was a back-and-forth game until Villanova went on a 5-0 run to take a commanding lead. Up 17-11, the Wildcats rode the momentum the rest of the way. A couple of three-point spurts put Villanova in excellent position to close it out. A kill by Michaela Berendt scored the penultimate point. On the ensuing point, an error by the Pirates gave the Wildcats a 2-0 advantage.
For the third and final set, the Wildcats overwhelmed the Pirates to finish the game. Three separate runs throughout the set helped Villanova build a 20-10 coming down the stretch. Later in the set, Gabby Pethokoukis delivered the finishing blow to secure the win.
“We had an extra day to rest, it gave everyone’s legs a chance to breathe,” Villanova’s Claire Crutchfield said. “We came out fresh, it was our only game this weekend so we knew that we had to really push.”
Villanova remains undefeated at Jake Nevin Field House, improving to 10-0 at home.
“We absolutely love playing at Nevin,” Crutchfield said. “When you play here, it’s the essence of your team. It’s seen all of our hard work.”
Four different Wildcats scored at least five kills each. Allie Loitz supplied seven kills and four digs. Amanda Pedersen-Henry and Lauren Carpenter had six kills each. Gabby Pethokoukis finished with five kills and five blocks.
The Wildcats have two more games left in the regular season, both of which will be at home. Villanova will take on Providence on Friday night and then St. John’s the following day for Senior Night.
Villanova beat both teams earlier this year pretty comfortably on the road.
“Both those matches are matches we have to take seriously,” Coach Steinbach said. “We’re in the driver’s seat right now to put a second seed in the tournament. If we win both, we’ll be the 2-seed and I think we know that. So both of those matches will matter a lot to us.”