Sep 7, 2013
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The Navy volleyball team closed out play at the Mountaineer Invitational Saturday by defeating Canisius in three sets and losing to tournament-host West Virginia in three sets.
"We are a better team now than we were 48 hours ago," said Navy head coach Larry Bock of the progress made by the Mids over the four matches at the tournament. This weekend will help us take a big jump in our momentum with this group."
Navy's day began with its 25-9, 28-26, 25-17 win over Canisius (0-7).
Navy put together its best start to a set thus far this season in its opening frame against Canisius. The Mids used a 9-1 run to jump in front of the Golden Griffins, 10-3. Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) figured prominently in the run as she accounted for two kills, a solo block and one block assist during it. Canisius soon pulled to within five points of Navy at 12-7, but a 10-0 run by the Mids gave them a 22-7 advantage they would not relinquish.
Navy hit .269 (10 kills, 3 errors, 33 attempts) in the opening set while limiting Canisius to a mark of -.121 (5-9-33).
"We came our firing on all cylinders in the first set," said Bock. "Everything was clicking. That's the first time we have done that this year. It was fun to see. It wasn't Canisius lying down for us; it was us earning every point."
The Mids tried to separate themselves from the Golden Griffins several times in the second set, only to see Canisius battle back each time. Navy turned a 14-13 lead into an 18-13 advantage that soon became 21-16. After the Mids took a 22-20 lead, Canisius notched the ensuing three points to take a 23-22 advantage.
Cassel knocked down a kill to tie the score, with Jacklyn Malusa recording a kill on the next play to take the Golden Griffins to set point with a 24-23 lead. Cassel answered with another kill, which Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) followed with a kill of her own to give Navy a 25-24 lead and the opportunity to serve for the set. A Navy attack error erased the chance, with a Canisius service error returning the serve to the Mids with a 26-25 lead. A kill by Emily Elek knotted the score for the seventh time. Back to the middle setter Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) went as she found Cassel's fellow position player Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) for a kill to make the score 27-26 in favor of the Mids. A Canisius attack error ended the lengthy set that gave Navy a 2-0 advantage.
Navy then slowly edged itself away from Canisius in the third set. The Mids held an 11-6 advantage early on, but were unable to build upon that cushion before the Golden Griffins sliced the margin down to one point at 18-17. Following a Navy timeout, Karika fed Fortner, Sylakowski and Olivia Yeager
(So., Lutz, Fla.) on successive plays to give the Mids a 21-17 lead. That was followed by a Canisius attack error that made the score 22-17 and led to a timeout by the Golden Griffins. As Cassel sparked the Mids at the beginning of the first set, Fortner did the same at the end of the third set. She notched an unassisted kill, a kill from Karika and a solo block to account for the final three points of the set and the match.
The Mids outhit the Golden Griffins, .238 to .047 in the match. Navy also held statistical advantages over Canisius in kills (40-27), aces (6-3), digs (55-41) and blocks (6-5).
Individually, Fortner led all players in the match with 15 kills. The opposite hitter also tallied a solid .257 attack percentage on her 35 swings while chipping in eight digs and the aforementioned solo block. Though Fortner was the lone Mid to reach double figures in kills, Yeager, Cassel and Sylakowski each added seven kills to the Navy effort. Karika also had a strong stat line of 32 assists, six digs, three aces and two blocks. Defensively, Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) snared 23 digs. That tally left Graf one shy of tying the Navy record for the most digs accrued in a three-set match.
"This match was a good indication of the team we can be," said Bock.
Jacklyn Malusa led the Canisius offense with 11 kills.
West Virginia improved to 7-0 on the season -- and 21-1 in sets played -- with its 25-22, 25-10, 25-15 win over Navy (3-4).
West Virginia scored the opening five points of the first set and held a lead of up to five points over the rest of the set, including at 17-12, before Navy cut the deficit down to one point at 17-16. A quick 3-0 run by the Mountaineers gave them a 20-16 cushion. The Mids cut the margin to two points at 21-19, then the teams played sideout volleyball over the remainder of the frame as the Mountaineers picked up the win.
"We dig that hole four ourselves at the start of the set," said Bock, "but we outscored West Virginia the rest of set."
The Mountaineers went on several sizeable runs early in the second set. The score was tied at 3-3 when an 8-0 run gave West Virginia an 11-3 lead. After a kill by Yeager, the Mountaineers tallied the ensuing three points to take a 14-4 cushion. West Virginia soon built a 21-8 lead on its way to taking a 2-0 lead in sets.
Navy had a much better start to the third set as it took a slim 6-5 lead. West Virginia responded with a 6-0 run to take an 11-6 lead, then it was able to extend the gap out to seven points at 15-8. The Mids climbed back into the frame slightly when they winnowed the margin down to four points at 18-14, but that was followed by a set and match-closing 7-1 run by the Mountaineers.
West Virginia posted 43 kills and hit .429 while limiting Navy's offense to 29 kills and a .071 attack percentage. The Mountaineers also produced eight blocks to just two for the Mids, as well as one more dig than Navy tallied (27-26).
Yeager and Fortner both finished the match with seven kills, while Graf's 10 digs paced the Mids.
West Virginia's Jordan Anderson tallied 13 kills, 5 digs, 3 blocks and hit .462.
"We used the second and third sets to try a few things with the lineup," said Bock. "We thought it was a good chance to throw some different looks on the court, which we may need at some point during the season. We coaches caused some disorganization on the floor with the players with this. They were fine in how they played with all of that going on. There were stretches where the team played great. West Virginia really played well tonight and all weekend. They are on a nice roll."
Sylakowski was named to the all-tournament team this weekend.
"Our libero, Alli, was terrific for much of the weekend," said Bock, in summarizing Navy's efforts at the invite. "That was important both for her and for us as a team. All of our middle hitters were very good. And Erin was `Erin' in the matches we played her a fair amount in. It was great to see. What a nice thing for her to play as well a she did."
Navy will return to the Wesley A. Brown Field House to play host to Air Force on Wed., Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Free live statistics and a free live video stream of the match will be available at NavySports.com.
"We are going to see competition the caliber of who we played this weekend next week when we play Air Force and when we go to the Cincinnati tournament," said Bock. "So this was a good tournament for us to be at in anticipation of our upcoming schedule."