By: Robert Jamieson
Xavier completed its home schedule over the weekend at Cintas Center with a pair of wins over Villanova and Georgetown.
The two wins kept Xavier in the hunt for a possible share of the Big East regular season title with Marquette. The Musketeers will need to hope for some losses from the Golden Eagles for a tie for first place, however, as XU is still two games back in the Big East standings.
Xavier started off the weekend with a four-set win over Villanova (25-19, 24-26, 25-12, 25-19).
Outside hitters freshman Abbey Bessler, senior Sarah Brown and sophomore Makayla Agin all recorded double-digit kills in the match to lead the way for XU.
After splitting the first two sets, Xavier took control. The Musketeers dominated the Wildcats in the third set with a score of 25-12. The fourth set proved to be much closer, however.
With the score knotted up at 16 points apiece, Xavier scored the next four points and went on to close out the set and the match.
Bessler notched her 19th double-double of the season with a team-high 18 kills and 16 digs.
Brown had a double-double as well, with 14 kills and a team-high 20 digs. Brown’s 20 digs give her 1,159 all-time at Xavier, a mark that ranks 10th in the record books. Saturday’s win against Georgetown (25-22, 25-16, 24-19) made for a special day for Xavier, especially head coach Mike Johnson and Xavier’s three seniors: Brown, outside hitter Kelsey Dunaway and middle blocker Alex Smith.
With this being his fourth year as head coach, this group marks Johnson’s first four-year graduating class.
After the game, coach Johnson expressed how much this class has meant to the program.
“We talk often of the difference of success and significance. From the standpoint of success, I am proud to say that this group has become the third in Xavier history to win 20 matches every year of their career.”
“Their impact in terms of significance, though, is immeasurable. They left a mark on this place that will be felt for years to come,” he said.
Xavier took care of the Hoyas in three sets with some familiar faces leading the way.
Bessler added another double-double, her 20th of the season, while junior setter Aubree Smith had 37 assists in the match.
As stated above, this pair of victories gives Xavier a chance to earn a share of the Big East regular season crown with Marquette.
Xavier will need to beat Marquette and DePaul this coming weekend and will also need Marquette to lose its following game against Butler.
While it may be unlikely that both of these things happen, a win against Marquette would definitely give XU some momentum going into the Big East tournament in Omaha, Neb. and give the Musketeers second place outright.