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by Ryan Peloquin

The Wildcats dropped two Big East games this past weekend, extending the losing streak to six games. At the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Xavier defeated the ’Cats on Friday 3-1.

While the Wildcats are currently 4-11 in Big East play, the Musketeers sit at the opposite end of the spectrum, boasting a 10-3 Big East record.

The first set consisted of trading points early.  Yet, when the Musketeers took a 7-6 lead, they refused to relinquish it. Xavier would eventually take the set 25-19.

When trailing to Xavier, 15-19, in the second set, the Wildcats showed signs of life.  ’Nova went on an 11-5 run, which was led by three kills each from sophomore outside hitter Colleen Hickey and freshman outside hitter Claire Crutchfield.

The second set victory was Villanova’s first winning set in four games.  Crutchfield led all scorers with her career high 19 kills.

However, the Wildcats could not rally despite this momentum.  Xavier would take the third set, 25-12, and a back-and-forth fourth set by a score of 25-19.

Despite the loss, Friday’s match put sophomore setter Emma Pettit in the record books.  Her 39 assists allowed her to pass Jennifer Badran-Grycan on the all-time Villanova career assist list.  Pettit sits at No. 9 all time with 1,757 career assists, just 46 shy of number eight Cathy Arnette.

“Xavier is very good and played well at home,” Villanova Head Coach Josh Steinbach said after the loss.  “I feel like our team played hard and we are continuing to improve. It just wasn’t quite enough today.”

The women traveled to Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for their Saturday bout with the Butler Bulldogs.  Butler came into the match with 23 wins on the season, including a 10-4 Big East record.

Butler started hot.  In the first set, the Bulldogs notched 15 kills on four errors.  Despite a late rally by the Wildcats, Butler prevailed in the frame by a score of 25-20.

During the second set, Villanova rallied to go ahead 13-8 after a Crutchfield serve.  However, Butler would not go away, eventually tying the match at 17.  Butler closed the set on an 8-3 run, and took another 25-20 win.

The closest set was the third.  After trailing 19-15, Villanova went on an 8-4 run to tie the match at 23.  Yet, the rally would fall short.  Following a Butler block, Bulldog  senior setter Morgan Peterson landed the winning kill to end the match by a score of 26-24.

Sophomore middle blockers Brittany Rembert and Gabby Pethokoukis were impressive in the competitive third.  Pethokoukis would finish the day with a match high 12 kills and five blocks, while Rembert posted six kills on nine hits.

Senior libero Mariah Henley contributed three aces and a match high 14 digs and sophomore outside hitter Lauren Carpenter would register 10 kills and five digs of her own for the ’Cats.

Despite the bright spots, Villanova struggled from the field.  The Wildcats hit a measly .158 to Butler’s .217.

Only Creighton remains on Villanova’s regular season schedule.  The Bluejays boast a 9-3 record in third place in the Big East.  Creighton has an 18-6 record overall and will be a challenge for the struggling ’Cats.

After the Bluejay matchup, the only remaining Big East matches will occur in the championship.  The tournament is slated to start Nov. 29 with the semifinals, and end the next day.  It will be hosted by Crieghton in Omaha, Neb. The final Creighton match will occur in Omaha at 2 p.m. Nov. 24.

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