Nov. 2, 2012
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The Navy volleyball team outhit Lafayette by over 100 points to help the Midshipmen post a three-set sweep of the Leopards Friday night at Leeman-Turner Arena on the Lehigh campus in Bethlehem, Pa. Navy defeated Lafayette by set scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-16.
The match was played on the Lehigh campus instead of at Lafayette due to Easton still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the town.
The win was Navy's first three-set sweep of Lafayette in the Lehigh Valley since 2006 and, coupled with the five-set victory by the Mids over the Leopards earlier this season, gives Navy its first season series sweep of Lafayette since 2007.
More importantly, the victory pulled the Mids into a tie with Lehigh for fourth place in the Patriot League standings. Earlier in the night, the Mountain Hawks dropped a three-set decision to American. Both the Mids and the Mountain Hawks have posted 6-5 records in league play, and the two teams will meet Saturday at 1 p.m. in Bethlehem.
The Mids rallied from a 0-2 deficit to defeat the Mountain Hawks in five sets earlier this season in Annapolis. After play ends around the league on Saturday, each team will have just two matches remaining in the regular season. Only the top-four teams in the final standings will advance to the Patriot League Tournament.
"We are going to have to improve our play Saturday," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "Our serving, blocking and defense all need to be better tomorrow than they were tonight. Lehigh is a very good team at siding out. We will have to not only slow that down, but find ways for us to score as well."
The opening set was tied at 10-10 when the Mids went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-10 advantage. The Leopards sliced that cushion in half before Navy tallied the next three points to take a 19-13 lead. The Navy lead soon was 23-17 when Lafayette went on a 4-0 run to pull to within two points of the Mids at 23-21. Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) notched a kill to take Navy to set point with a 24-21 lead, then a service ace by Katie Sylakowski (Fr., Escondido, Calif.) closed out the first set.
The second set was close from start to finish. The Mids tried to separate themselves from the Leopards by taking a three-point lead at both 20-17 and 21-18. The teams would trade several sideouts that led the Navy taking a 24-21 advantage on a kill from Fortner. However, a Lafayette kill by Katy Rooney and an attack error by Navy setter Alex Karika
(Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa.) allowed Lafayette to close the margin down to 24-23. Karika would feed Alex Cassel
(So., Sandy, Utah) for a kill to give Navy the 2-0 lead in sets.
In contrast to the closely played first two sets, Navy scored eight of the first 10 points of the third set to quickly distance itself from Lafayette. The Mids would eventually take a 21-11 lead on their way to recording the sweep.
"It was a good, solid, workman-like effort by our team," said Bock. "A focus for us this week in practice has been our starts and finishes. I thought we did a pretty good job with those areas tonight."
Navy posted 45 kills and hit .265 in the match while limiting Lafayette to 32 kills and a .150 hitting percentage. The Mids also dropped in nine service aces to just three for the Leopards.
"I think we caught Lafayette at the end of the crazy week for them," said Bock. "They haven't really practiced in a gym with lights on all week, and I think that was displayed by their ball control tonight. They normally are a much better ball control team than they were in the match."
Fortner produced 14 kills, a .444 attack percentage and six digs. Olivia Yeager (Fr., Lutz, Fla.) and Carolyn Ewert (Sr., Bakersfield, Calif.) both added eight kills and Cassel knocked down seven kills on 10 swings. Ewert also would contribute three service aces in the match, while Cassel tallied a trio of blocks. Defensively, Chisty Rapp (Sr., Royal Oak, Mich.) grabbed 18 digs for the Mids.
"Erin had a real nice all-around game tonight," said Bock. "Her serving and defense were strong, and she shouldered a heavy load of our offense. It also was fun to see Olivia bounce back from a tough outing last week against American. She had a real confident match this evening."
Karissa Ciliento led Lafayette's offense with 11 kills.
Friday's Patriot League Results
Navy def. Lafayette, 3-0
American def. Lehigh, 3-0
Colgate def. Army, 3-2
Bucknell def. Holy Cross, 3-0
Patriot League Standings (3 matches remaining)
1 - 10-1 - Colgate
T2 - 8-3 - Army
T2 - 8-3 - American
T4 - 6-5 - Navy
T4 - 6-5 - Lehigh
6 - 3-8 - Bucknell
7 - 2-9 - Lafayette
8 - 1-10 - Holy Cross
Saturday's Patriot League Schedule
Navy at Lehigh, 1 p.m.
Holy Cross at Colgate, 3 p.m.
American vs. Lafayette (at Lehigh), 4 p.m.
Army at Bucknell, 5 p.m.