Oct. 20, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. - Key plays down the stretch of each set allowed the Navy volleyball team to post a three-set victory over Holy Cross Saturday afternoon on the Holy Cross campus in Worcester, Mass. The Midshipmen tallied a 25-22, 25-19, 25-21 victory over the Crusaders.
The win by Navy was the first for the Mids over Holy Cross in Worcester since the 2008 season. Today's match was played one day after both the Mids lost at Army and the Crusaders took a 2-1 lead in sets over American before losing to the Eagles in five sets. Additionally, Navy has recorded five Patriot League victories this fall after having totaled five league wins over the previous three seasons.
"We played well today against a Holy Cross team that is on a little upward trajectory," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "I can see why they have given opposing teams fits lately. They are a pretty good team.
"It is hard to play Holy Cross, especially in their gym. I don't think we had a clean kill all night. It was hard to get the ball on the floor. Facing Holy Cross is like having a root canal."
The victory was a very important one for the Mids in terms of their placement within the Patriot League. Navy is in a fight with American and Lehigh for the final two spots in the Patriot League Tournament, and both the Eagles and the Mountain Hawks notched key road victories Saturday. Lehigh handed previously unbeaten (in Patriot League play) Colgate a four-set loss while American swept second-place Army. As a result, with three weeks and five matches remaining in the regular season, American is in third place with a 6-3 record while Navy and Lehigh are tied for fourth place with identical 5-4 records. Colgate remains atop the league with an 8-1 record, with Army alone in second place with a mark of 7-2.
Navy tried several times to separate itself from Holy Cross (1-8) in the first set. The Mids jumped out to a 6-1 lead only to see the Crusaders winnow the margin down to two points at 8-6. Navy slowly stretched its advantage out to six points at 17-11 before taking a 22-18 lead. Holy Cross ran off the ensuing three points to make it a one-point set at 22-21. Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) proceeded to knock down a kill to double Navy's lead, then an attack error by Megan Lynch gave Navy a 24-21 advantage. Holy Cross made the score 24-22 when Callie Black blocked Katie Sylakowski (Fr., Escondido, Calif.), but Fortner put down her fourth kill of the set to close out the frame.
While Navy never trailed in the first set, the lead changed hands six times and the score was tied on 11 occasions in the second set. The largest lead for either team was two points until the Mids broke open a 19-19 tie set by tallying the next six points to win the set. Navy's sprint to the finish started when Olivia Yeager
(Fr., Lutz, Fla.) posted a kill to record the 20th point of the set for the Mids. Christy Rapp
(Sr., Royal Oak, Mich.) followed with a service ace, then Sylakowski posted a kill to give Navy a 22-19 lead. A ball-handling error on the Holy Cross setter made it a 23-19 advantage for Navy. After being blocked late in the first set, Sylakowski answered at this point in the second set with a solo block of her own to take Navy to set point. The Mids converted the opportunity when another ball-handling error was whistled on the Holy Cross setter.
The third set proved to be nearly as close as the second set was. The score was knotted 10 times and the teams exchanged the lead four times. Holy Cross held an 18-17 lead when Alex Karika (Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa.) set Alex Cassel (So., Sandy, Utah) for a kill to tie the frame. A Holy Cross attack error and an ensuing kill by Yeager gave Navy a 3-0 run and a 20-18 lead. Navy (Cassel) and Holy Cross (Heather Roberts) traded attack errors (21-19), then a Lynch kill again made it a one-point difference between the teams (21-20).
Yeager would post back-to-back kills to give Navy a 23-20 lead and a little cushion to play with down the stretch. Karika committed a service error (23-21), but then went back to Yeager for another kill that made the score 24-21 in favor of Navy. J.B. Loomis (So., Havertown, Pa.) dropped behind the service line for the Mids and she recorded an ace to close out the set and the 90-minute match.
Helping Navy to the win was it having 21 more attack attempts in the match than Holy Cross did. The Mids took 130 swings while holding the Crusaders to 109. As a result, Navy tallied 46 kills to just 32 for Holy Cross, with the Mids also holding a .200-.147 advantage in hitting percentage. Navy also was aided by its serving tonight. The Mids accrued seven service aces and allowed the Crusaders just two aces of their own.
Fortner paced all players in the match with 12 kills. She has now posted double-figure kills in all nine of Navy's Patriot League matches this autumn. Yeager contributed 10 kills in the match, which is a season high for a three-set match for her, while Cassel posted seven kills and hit .312. Sylakowski had a strong all-around match as she accrued seven kills, three aces and four blocks. Also helping out in a number of statistical facets was Karika, who dished out 34 assists and knocked down four kills of her own to go along with two aces and six digs. Sparking the Navy defense was Rapp, who snared a match-high 19 digs.
"Christy continues to play well for us," said Bock. "She was one of the reasons why we were able to sideout as well as we did (at least 60% in all three sets). We are a different team when she is playing like she is. And Alex Karika did another nice job of getting our hitters a lot of quality swings at the ball."
The Holy Cross offense was paced by Emily Oliver, who posted 10 kills, and by Lynch, who added nine kills.
Navy will play host to American Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Wesley A. Brown Field House.
Saturday's Patriot League Results
Navy def. Holy Cross, 3-0
American def. Army, 3-0
Lehigh def. Colgate, 3-1
Bucknell def. Lafayette, 3-2
Patriot League Standings (5 matches remaining)
1 - 8-1, Colgate
2 - 7-2, Army
3 - 6-3, American
T-4 - 5-4, Navy
T-4 - 5-4, Lehigh
T-6 - 2-7, Lafayette
T-6 - 2-7, Bucknell
8 - 1-8, Holy Cross
This Week's Patriot League Schedule
Bucknell at Colgate (Thursday, Oct. 25)
American at Navy (Friday, Oct. 26)
Lafayette at Lehigh (Friday, Oct. 26)
Army at Holy Cross (Saturday, Oct. 27)