Sept. 28, 2013
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Lehigh put together late runs in a pair of sets to outlast the Navy volleyball team, 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, Saturday evening at Leeman-Turner Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
The win boosts Lehigh record in Patriot League matches to 4-1 (12-4 overall), while the Mids fell to 2-1 in league play (6-8 on the season) with the loss.
Each of the first three sets were very close until one team seemingly pulled away from the other, only to see the trailing team come back to win the frame. Navy held a 24-19 advantage in the first set only to lose, Lehigh was up 21-17 in the second set before the Mids rallied for the win, then Navy took a 19-15 lead in the third set before the Mountain Hawks used a late spurt to come away with the victory.
"It was a match with a weird rhythm to it," said Navy head coach Larry Bock.
The score was tied at 16-16 in the first set when Navy opened up leads of 19-16, 21-18 and 24-19. Lehigh began its comeback when Amanda Clark was credited with a kill on a Navy blocking error and then scored again on an attack error by the Mids. A kill by Jade Van Streppen was followed by a block from Amy Matula and another block by the duo of Clark and Van Streppen. Claire Bradshaw promptly served consecutive aces to cap a set-closing 7-0 run for the Mountain Hawks.
"It was one of those runs where we couldn't do anything to stop the bleeding once it began," said Bock. "I called both of my timeouts during that run and we still couldn't stop it."
The Mids bounced back to win the second set with a late rally of their own. Lehigh took early leads of 14-9, 16-11 and 19-15 before taking the aforementioned 21-17 advantage. Back-to-back kills from Caroline Jacobs (Sr., Arnold, Md.) and Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) sliced the margin in half, then Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) recorded a block. An ace from Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) tied the score, then the Mids took a 22-21 lead on another block from Sylakowski.
A bad set by the Mids tied the score at 22-22, then a kill by Fortner gave Navy a one-point lead. The advantage for the Mids doubled on a Lehigh attack error, then shrunk in half again on a kill from Courtney McCutchan. Navy closed out the frame on a kill from Sylakowski.
"It was really great to see us respond so well in the second set," said Bock. "It was a wonderful recovery from the first set, especially with us having to fight back from a good deficit in the set ourselves."
Navy carried that momentum into the third set as the Mids took leads of 15-12 and 19-15, only to see Lehigh tie the score at 20-20. Navy soon took a 23-22 lead on a kill from Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) and an ace from Graf. A blocking error on the Mids tied the score, then a block by McCutchan gave the Mountain Hawks a 24-23 lead. Lehigh would close out the set on a Navy attack error.
Lehigh jumped out to leads of 5-0 and 8-1 at the start of the fourth set on its way to picking up the victory.
"We did some uncharacteristic things in the third set," said Bock, "and then I messed things up with the lineup in the fourth set in an effort to find something to work."
The hitting numbers between the teams showed Lehigh with a sizeable advantage over Navy, with the defensive numbers being almost equal. Lehigh's offense ended the match with 58 kills and a hitting percentage of .280, while its defense held Navy to 47 kills and a hitting percentage of .194. The Mids also accrued nine aces, 61 digs and 8.0 blocks, but the Mountain Hawks posted eight aces, 57 digs and 9.0 blocks.
Fortner led the Navy offense with 15 kills, while Sylakowski was close behind her with 10 kills and a .412 attack percentage. Defensively for the Mids, Graf hauled in 21 digs, J.B. Loomis (Jr., Havertown, Pa.) snared 12 digs, and both Sylakowski and Cassel tallied four blocks.
Lehigh had three players reach double figures in kills, with Kaylynn Genemaras leading the Mountain Hawks with 16 kills and a .433 hitting percentage.
"We were very imprecise today," said Bock. "There are a lot of things we can blame for it. We just were not hitting on all cylinders. Our passing was too conservative, and our connection with the middles was not real good. We were able to get the ball to the middles, but rarely could we run our quick stuff that we want to with them. We had eight blocking errors (to five for Lehigh), which was another sign of us being off just a little.
"If we can hang in there against a team like Lehigh in spite of not being in a real good rhythm, then that means there are better things ahead of us. This team is growing up quickly."
Navy will return home Saturday, Oct. 5, to play host to Colgate in a 4 p.m. match in the Wesley A. Brown Field House.