Mids Split Pair of Volleyball Matches
Aug 31, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team closed out play on its first weekend of the season by splitting a pair of matches Saturday at the Kristen Dickmann Invitational. The Mids posted a four-set victory over Illinois-Chicago and lost a three-set decision to Elon in matches played in the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis.
"We learned this weekend that the difference between being very good and average is minuscule," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "It is up to us as coaches to figure out a way so our players are reaching toward their range of potential."
The Mids began the day by holding on for a 25-18, 25-22, 20-25, 25-23 win over UIC (1-1). Neither team held a lead of over three points in the early stages of the set. Navy held a 17-16 lead when Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) notched a kill and a solo block on consecutive plays to boost the margin out to 19-16. Olivia Yeager (So., Lutz, Fla.) promptly dropped in a service ace to make the lead 20-16 in favor of the Mids. The teams exchanged the next four points to give Navy a 22-18 advantage. A kill by Raena Borcuk (Fr., Twin Peaks, Calif.) and a kill by Fortner took the Mids to set point. Bock then subbed in setter Star Steele (So., Tampa, Fla.) for setter Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) as a front-row blocker. The tactic worked as Steele combined with Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) for a block to end the opening set.
"We coaches tend to think we are smart in making that blocking sub," said Bock, "but we know that it usually works about once every 10 years, if we are lucky."
The second set also was a close one until a late surge by Navy provided it enough of a cushion for the win. Once again, Navy held a 17-16 lead when, once again, Fortner knocked down a kill. Yeager recorded another service ace and then Forter and Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) combined for a block to give Navy a 20-16 lead. The advantage became 21-16 thanks to a UIC attack error. The Flames tallied the ensuing three points to slice the margin down to 21-19, but a kill by Fortner made it a three-point Navy lead. Borcuk had an attack error to give the serve back to UIC, but that was followed by a kill from Cassel and an attack error by the Flames, all of which led to Navy taking a 24-20 lead. UIC's Sara Sternard tallied consecutive kills to slice the difference in half, but a kill by Cassel closed out the second set.
Sets one and two saw the score tied a total of 10 times and lead change hands twice. In set three, the score was tied eight times to go along with three lead changes, the last of which proved to be when UIC took a 10-9 lead. The Flames soon used a 3-0 run to build a 14-11 lead. Navy closed the deficit down to a pair of points several times, the last of which made the score 17-15. Another 3-0 run by UIC gave the Flames a 20-17 lead, which the Mids could not slice into anymore over the remainder of the frame.
UIC made a similar move in the fourth set as it turned a 10-10 score into a 15-11 lead. It would soon be 17-14 in favor of the Flames when the Mids started to chip away at the margin. Navy closed to within one point when a Yeager kill made the score 18-17. After an attack error by Sylakowski made the margin two points, Fortner notched a solo block to cut the difference in half. That was followed by an attack error by UIC which tied the score at 19-19. Yeager tallied another ace to give the Mids a 20-19 lead, then a Flames attack error and a block by Sylakowski capped a 4-0 run by Navy that gave it a 22-19 lead.
A kill by UIC's Molly McCoy, a kill by teammate Kara Johnson and a block by the duo of Melissa Nava and Casey Harris quickly let the Flames tie the score at 22-22. Karika went back to Fortner who delivered with a kill to break the tie. That was followed by an attack error by the Flames to give Navy a 24-22 lead. Johnson posted another kill to cut the margin in half, but a kill by Borcuk capped off the match for the Mids.
The offenses for both teams had solid performances as Navy totaled 50 kills and a .256 hitting percentage while UIC accrued 56 kills and hit .241. The dig tallies between the teams were nearly identical, 49-47 in favor of UIC, but the Mids held a 10.0-6.0 advantage in blocks. Navy also won the statistical contest at the service line as the Mids totaled 8 aces against 9 service errors while the Flames finished the match with 3 aces and 12 service errors.
Fortner, who posted 9 kills and 1 attack error on 14 swings (.571) through the first two sets, ended the match with 14 kills and an attack percentage of .323. She also tallied seven digs and four blocks in the contest. Joining her in double figures in kills were Borcuk with 12 and Yeager with 11. Yeager also dropped in a career-high five service aces and notched the second double-double of her career with a career-high 13 digs. Meanwhile, Borcuk accounted for the remaining three aces for the Mids in the match.
UIC's Johnson paced all players in the match with 17 kills.
"Olivia and Erin and all of our outside hitters were terrific," said Bock. "And you have to give at least a share of their success to Karika. She did a really nice job of finding the right people at the right place at the right time for the hitters to come through. That allowed us to hit pretty well against a very good team."
Navy's third and final match of the weekend saw the Mids start slowly and have a late rally fall short in each set of a 27-25, 25-21, 25-22 loss to Elon (1-2).
The Phoenix scored six of the first seven points of the opening set before Navy rallied to tie the score at 9-9. Elon would soon hold a lead of a couple of points before using a 4-0 run to break out to a 20-15 advantage. The lead would soon be 23-20 when a kill by Sylakowski, a block by the tandem of Borcuk and Cassel and a kill by Fortner tied the score at 23-23. The teams again traded points until an attack error by Fortner gave Elon a 27-25 win in the set.
The second set saw Elon break out to a 5-2 lead before the Mids tied the score at 8-8. The Phoenix then tallied the next five points to take a 13-8 advantage. They would hold a slim lead until Navy tied the score at 16-16. The teams traded the next four points to make the score 18-18, then back-to-back points gave Navy a 20-18 lead. Back came Elon to tie the score at 20-20 before Steele set Sylakowski for a kill to give Navy the lead again at 21-20. However, Elon notched the next five points to win the second set.
Elon again jumped out to an early lead in the third set, this time taking a 6-1 lead, but again Navy chipped away at the deficit and tied the score at 10-10. The Phoenix would take a 14-12 lead before Navy scored the next four points to regain the advantage at 16-14. Elon recorded three-straight points to take a 17-16 lead before a service error allowed Navy to tie the score at 17-17. The Phoenix posted the next three points to build a 20-17 cushion, but Navy rallied and closed to within one point at 22-21. Back-to-back points by Elon took it to match point at 24-21. A Fortner kill extended the match, but Elon closed out the day by winning the next point.
Whereas Navy's first match of the day saw the offenses dictate play, defense controlled this evening's match. Elon held a slim 38-34 lead over Navy in kills, while the Phoenix hit .161 to the .100 mark tallied by the Mids. Navy narrowly led in both defensive statistics; the Mids grabbed 47 digs to the 45 snared by the Phoenix, while Navy posted 11 blocks to 7 for Elon.
Fortner was the lone Mid to reach double figures in kills with 12, and her .259 attack percentage ranked second on the team despite having at least seven more swings than any other player. She also posted 12 digs, which tied her with Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) for the Navy lead, while also finishing second on the squad -- to Cassel (4) -- with three blocks.
Elon's Kris Harris knocked down 13 kills to lead all players in the match.
"It just was not happening for us tonight," said Bock, "and that was no matter how hard we tried out there. They all were really trying hard, but sometimes trying our best still doesn't get us what we want. We went deep into our toolbox tonight and there is no doubt each and every player who took to the court fought and dug and clawed as hard as they could. Elon played a great match and they were just better than us."
Navy will take to the road next weekend when the Mids travel to Morgantown, W.Va., for the Mountaineer Invitational. The Mids will face Fordham and Norfolk State on Friday before playing taking on Canisius and tournament-host West Virginia on Saturday.
"All of us are disappointed to have not been able to pick up a win tonight," said Bock. "But we will be back at it Monday along with a significant amount of data to plug in and digest from this weekend."
Kristen Dickmann Invitational Summary
UIC def. Elon, 3-1
UNCW def. Navy, 3-1
Navy def, UIC, 3-1
UNCW def. Elon 3-0
UNCW def. UIC, 3-1
Elon def. Navy, 3-0
Christi Laite, UNCW (MVP)
Meredith Peacock, UNCW
Courtney Porter, UNCW
Kris Harris, Elon
Sara Sternard, UIC
Erin Fortner, Navy