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Navy Volleyball Ends Day with Win

Alex Cassel

Sep 6, 2013

Final Stats

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- After opening play at the Mountaineer Invitational with a three-set loss to Fordham, the Navy volleyball team bounced back to post a three-set victory over Norfolk State Friday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va.

Navy began the day with its 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 loss to Fordham (2-2). The Mids fell behind early in the first set, but soon closed to within one point of the Rams at 9-8. The middle part of the set remained close and it again was a one-point Navy deficit at 19-18 when Fordham rattled off the ensuing six points to win the opening frame.

Set number two saw the score tied a total of 12 times and the lead change hands on seven occasions. Fordham held a 16-15 lead when a run of three-consecutive points gave it a 19-15 cushion. The Mids whittled the margin down to two points four different times, including at 23-21, but back-to-back points by the Rams gave them a 2-0 advantage in sets.

Navy held a 13-12 lead in the third set until another run of three-straight Fordham points allowed it to open up a 15-13 lead. The Mids made it a one-point set at 16-15, but Fordham notched the next seven points to take a 23-15 lead on its way to winning the set and the match.

Fordham tallied just three more kills (36-33) than Navy did on four fewer attempts (96-92), but the Rams outhit the Mids, .239-.115. That difference can be attributed to Navy recording 22 attack errors to just 14 for the Rams. Fordham also got the better of Navy at the service line as the Rams posted four more aces (6-2) and five fewer service errors (10-5) than the Mids.

Navy's middle hitters enjoyed their best offensive production of the young season. Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) had nine kills and hit .500, Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) had six kills and hit .444 and Caroline Jacobs (Sr., Arnold, Md.) posted two kills and hit .400. The trio combined for 17 kills and three attack errors on 30 swings, while the remainder of the team accrued 16 kills and 19 attack errors on 66 attempts.



Defensively, libero Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) snared six digs while setters Alex Karika (Cranberry Township, Pa.) and Star Steele (So., Tampa, Fla.) each grabbed five digs.

"In looking at bright spots," said Navy head coach Larry Bock, "we found one in the play of our middle hitters. They were terrific, as were our setters. Maeve Drummey (So., Silver Spring, Md.) also played real well as a defensive sub for us."

Navy (2-3) then notched a 25-21, 26-24, 25-18 victory over Norfolk State (1-4), a team that defeated the Mids in four sets one year ago.

The Spartans jumped out to a 7-3 lead at the beginning of the first set, with the Mids battling back to tie the frame at 12-12. After the teams traded points to make the score 13-13, Norfolk State ran off the next four points to build a 17-13 lead. It was again a four-point cushion for the Spartans at 20-16 when Navy went on an 8-0 run to take a 24-20 lead. Karika started the sprint with a kill and ended it with a service ace. In between were kills by Sylakowski and Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.), two Norfolk State attack errors and a block by the tandem of Sylakowski and Fortner. A kill by the Spartans made the score 24-21, but a Norfolk State attack error closed out the scoring in the frame.

Norfolk State led by as many as four points (10-6) in the second set before taking a 23-20 advantage over the Mids. A block by Navy's Cassel and Raena Borcuk (Fr., Twin Peaks, Calif.) pulled the Mids to within two points, then back-to-back Norfolk State attack errors allowed Navy to knot the score at 23-23. A service error by the Mids took the Spartans to set point, but another attack error by Norfolk State tied the score for the fourth time at 24-24. Two more attack errors by the Spartans gave Navy the second set.

The first two sets saw the score tied a total of nine times and the lead change hands on five different occasions. The third set alone saw 11 ties and five lead changes. Norfolk State held a 14-13 lead when McKenzie Bailey (Fr., Dublin, Ohio) posted a kill to tie the score. Sylakowski and Karika teamed up for a block to give Navy the lead, then a Norfolk State attack error gave the Mids a 16-14 advantage. After a kill by the Spartans sliced the lead in half (16-15), Karika fed Bailey for another kill (17-15). That was followed by an ace from Karika (18-15), Karika feeding Sylakowski for a kill (19-15), a Norfolk State attack error (20-15) and an unassisted kill by Sylakowski (21-15). The Spartans could winnow the margin down to only as few as four points (21-17) before the Mids clinched the victory.

Navy hit just .132 as a team, but held Norfolk State to a -.057 attack percentage. The Mids posted 34 kills and 22 errors on 91 swings, while the Spartans had 26 kills and 32 errors on 105 attempts. Helping Navy to its hitting advantage was it posting four aces, 41 digs and 8.0 team blocks and limiting Norfolk State to three aces, 31 digs and 4.0 team blocks.

The middle hitters again had a strong performance for Navy. Cassel and Sylakowski each posted seven kills, hit over .300 and tallied four blocks. Fortner would lead Navy with 10 kills, while Graf snared 12 digs. Also having strong passing stats were J.B. Loomis (Jr., Havertown, Pa.) with nine digs and Bailey with seven digs to go along with a pair of blocks.

"It was a grinder of a match," said Bock. "We didn't have a lot of `pop' out there. We came in wanting to outdig and outblock Norfolk State, which we did. We were able to put some good pressure on them with our serving and defense. Our middle hitters were good again when we could get them the ball. To win a match against a team we lost to last year and who has pretty much everyone back is a sign of progress."

Navy will face Canisius Saturday at 2 p.m. before taking on tournament-host West Virginia at 6:30 p.m.

"We have to play better, jump high and hit the ball faster Saturday," said Bock. "We were not the team we are capable of being today."

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