Depleted Colonials Vanquish Villanova, 3-1, in Nittany Lion Invitational
Sept. 5, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA -- A injury-depleted GW Volleyball team rose to the occasion and defeated Villanova, 3-1, in the first match of the Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State University's Rec Hall Friday. GW won by the scores, 26-24, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, in one hour, 46 minutes.
Missing the team's kills leader in sophomore Leah Hill and freshman hitter Jenny O'Brien, the Colonials' depth at outside hitter was put to the test Friday. Pennsylvania native Liz Moult, junior Abby Syverson and freshman MacKenzie Knox all stepped up to the task. Knox's high school teammate, Alyssa Valentine, was steady with 38 assists and five blocks on the afternoon.
Moult led the team with 15 kills and a solo block while Syverson, Knox and Valentine each had errorless hitting efforts. Knox hit .500 on 10 kills in 20 swings while Syverson hit .323 with 10 kills in 31 attacks and 11 digs for her first double-double of the season. Valentine recorded 38 of GW's 43 assists with four kills in eight attempts.
The first set turned into a nail-biter as the teams battled through 11 ties before GW prevailed, 26-24. GW's largest lead was 17-10 before `Nova rallied to tie the set at 19-19 on a kill by Dana Tartazky. The teams fought through five more ties, the last at 24-24, before Valentine and Katie Zulandt combined to block an attack from Morgan Petkovich to set up set point. A subsequent attack error by the Wildcats' Elysse Studzinski gave the Colonials the set one victory.
GW took charge early in set two and led until the first tie at 16-16. A kill by Villanova's Maggie Mergen game the Wildcats the lead for good as they outscored GW 9-5 the rest of the way and won the set on a kill by Petkovich.
The third set was close all the way with neither team leading by more than four points. With the teams knotted at 22-22, GW got a pair of kills from Syverson, including the set-winner, sandwiched around a `Nova attack error and a Tartazky kill, to prevail 25-23 and take a two-sets-to-one lead in the match.
Set four saw Villanova build an early cushion at 13-8 before GW rallied to tie the set at 14-14 on a kill by Moult. Neither team led by more than two points until another Moult kill put the Colonials up, 23-21. Moult immediately scored again by blocking a Whitney Harrington attack to give GW the serve for match point. Villanova's Petkovich slammed a kill for the sideout. After the serve by `Nova's Chelsea Graman was passed by Maggie Wright to Valentine, the A-10 co-Rookie of the Week spiked the pass to win the set, 25-22, and the match.
Villanova (2-2) had a trio of players with double-figure kills led by Tartazky's match-high 21, Petkovich's 18 and 15 from Mergen. Graman had 59 assists and Amy Gulyas added 17 digs.
With the victory, the Colonials remained a perfect 7-0 in the all-time series with Villanova that began in 1983.
GW (3-1) next faces former A-10 Conference foe and top-ranked Penn State (3-0) Saturday at noon on day two of the Nittany Lion Invitational. Tomorrow's match marks only the second time a GW volleyball team has faced the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. GW fell to top-ranked Nebraska in the 1994 NCAA Tournament second round in the Colonials' only other match against a No. 1. GW is 2-19 all-time against the defending national champion Nittany Lions. Penn State will face Long Island later Friday.