Nov. 3, 2012
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh was able to string together sizeable runs in each of the three sets to post a 25-21, 25-21, 27-25 victory over the Navy volleyball team Saturday afternoon at Leeman-Turner Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
With the victory, Lehigh gains the tiebreaker advantage over Navy in the battle for the four-team Patriot League Tournament. With two matches left in the campaign, Mountain Hawks are now in fourth place in the standings with a record of 7-5 in league matches this fall while the Mids are 6-6 and in fifth place. The two teams split the season series, but Lehigh won five sets from the Mids over the course of the two matches while Navy took just three sets from the Mountain Hawks.
"Today's match came down to Lehigh making the plays when it needed to and we were unable to do so," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "A lot of weird things happened in the match at just the wrong time for us. Despite the disappointment of the loss, we couldn't be more proud of our team."
The opening set saw Lehigh break away from Navy in the middle part of the frame. The Mountain Hawks held just a 10-9 advantage before going on a 10-2 run to build a 20-11 cushion. Navy whittled the margin down to as few as three points, but that was with the Mountain Hawks holding a 24-21 lead.
The second set was very similar to the first set. A 4-1 run by Lehigh gave it a 15-11 lead. Navy was able to slice the four-point margin in half at both 15-13 and 16-14, but the Mountain Hawks used a 3-1 run to take a 19-15 cushion. Navy was able to close the difference down to two points at 21-19, 22-20 and 23-21 before back-to-back kills by Lehigh closed out the frame.
Navy was able to build a little cushion of its own in the middle of the third set. The Mids went on a modest 4-1 run to take a 14-11 lead before opening it up to as many as five points at 19-14. Lehigh responded with an 8-2 run -- including a run-closing 4-0 spurt -- to take a 22-21 lead. The teams traded several sideouts before the Mountain Hawks were serving for the match with a 24-23 lead. An Alex Cassel (So., Sandy, Utah) kill tied the score, then Katie Sylakowski (Fr., Escondido, Calif.) and Olivia Yeager (Fr., Lutz, Fla.) combined for a block to give Navy a 25-24 lead. Yeager was promptly blocked on the ensuing point to tie the score at 25-24. Sylakowski committed an attack error to break the tie, then a service ace by Lehigh ended the set and the match.
Navy lost the match despite totaling more kills (37-34) and more blocks (7-5) than Lehigh did and totaling a .150 hitting percentage to a .116 mark for the Mountain Hawks. Both teams also snared 52 digs on the afternoon. However, there was a noticeable difference between the teams at the service line. Navy dropped in four aces and committed 11 service errors in the match, with Lehigh tallying eight aces against just three errors.
"The statistics show we played very well for most of the match," said Bock. "The service line was not helpful to us, but our errors there were aggressive ones that we had to try and make."
Individually for Navy, Sylakowski tallied 10 kills, Cassel produced seven kills and no attack errors on 14 attempts, and Carolyn Ewert (Sr., Bakersfield, Calif.) finished the afternoon with seven kills and 13 digs. Christy Rapp (Sr., Royal Oak, Mich.) grabbed a Navy-high 14 digs on the afternoon.
Also, Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) failed to reach double figure kills for the first time this season in a league match. She would record just six kills against seven attack errors on 26 swings (-.036).
Taylor Poole led Lehigh's offense with 11 kills, while Rachel Charles tallied 21 digs for the Mountain Hawks.
Navy will close the regular season by playing host to Bucknell (3-9) Friday night and Colgate (11-1) Saturday afternoon. Lehigh's final matches will also be played at home Friday against Holy Cross (1-11) and Saturday versus Army (9-3). Either one victory by Lehigh or one loss by Navy will result in the Mountain Hawks clinching the fourth and final berth in the tournament.
Saturday's Patriot League Results
Lehigh def. Navy, 3-0
American def. Lafayette, 3-0
Colgate def. Holy Cross, 3-0
Army def. Bucknell, 3-0
Patriot League Standings (2 matches remaining)
1 - 11-1 - Colgate
T2 - 9-3 - Army
T2 - 9-3 - American
4 - 7-5 - Lehigh
5 - 6-6 - Navy
6 - 3-9 - Bucknell
7 - 2-10 - Lafayette
8 - 1-11 - Holy Cross