After Friday night’s big win for Pirate volleyball over Georgetown, Seton Hall head coach Allison Yaeger told her team that Saturday night’s showdown with Villanova was a must-win.
Her message was received.
Behind the strong play of Danielle Schroeder and Dominique Mason, the Pirates (14-14) knocked off Villanova (16-10) in a five-set thriller (27-25, 25-14, 17-25, 21-25, 15-11).
The Pirates got off to a hot start, taking the first two sets 27-25 and 25-14, but Villanova fought back to win the next two sets and force a fifth and final set.
“We lost a lot of momentum after the second set.” Yaeger said. “I’m extremely proud because it’s hard to come back in a fifth set after you just lost the last two, especially if you lost the last two.”
The first set began with the Pirates jumping out to a 3-1 lead and it seemed as if Seton Hall was going to cruise to a first-set victory, but Villanova fought back and eventually took the lead at 24-23. Led by Mason, who provided six kills in the first set and 14 on the night, the Pirates never quit and eventually won the set 27-25.
“It’s always a battle with Villanova,” Yaeger said. “We wanted it really badly.”
Seton Hall dominated the second set, picking up where it left off with a quick 8-3 lead. The Pirates rode that momentum to a 25-14 second-set victory.
The third and fourth sets were all Villanova, as they were able to climb back from an early 2-0 deficit to force a deciding fifth set.
The fifth set was back and forth from the start, with the Pirates beginning with a 3-2 lead. It would become tied at eight, and Nova would take a 9-8 lead, but from that point on, Seton Hall had the momentum. The Pirates forced a Villanova timeout after they gained an 11-9 lead, but the Wildcats were never able to re-group and dropped the set 15-11.
Not only did the Pirates come away with a win on Saturday night, but Schroeder was able to make some personal history. She notched her 1,000th career kill and became only the tenth Pirate in history to do so.
“I can’t say enough good things about Dani, I love her to death,” Yaeger said. “She’s everything for us. When she’s on, we’re winning.”
Next up for the Pirates will be a road trip to Marquette. When asked what it’s going to take to keep the good times rolling, it was a simple answer from Schroeder.
“Just staying hungry with every team we play.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.