Navy Drops Five-Set Contest
BETHLEHEM, Pa. –– The fifth set once again proved troublesome for the Navy volleyball team as the Mids (21-7, 11-4 Patriot League) lost a 28-26, 21-25, 25-19, 17-25, 15-10 decision to Lehigh (18-11, 9-6) Tuesday night at Leeman-Turner Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.
The result of the match gives American the Patriot League’s regular season title and the right to play host to the Nov. 18-19 league tournament, means Navy will be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the event, and takes Lehigh one step closer to securing a berth into the tournament.
Each of Navy’s four league losses and five of its seven losses this season have been five-set decisions.
“We are definitely a tested team with all of our five-set matches,” said Navy head coach Larry Bock. “We did a good job of getting over our disappointment in losing the first set to win the second, and fought really hard to win set four. The fifth set has been a hill we haven’t been able to successfully climb just yet. If we keep battling and putting ourselves into a position to win as we have, then all of this effort will payoff for us.”
The opening set saw the score tied eight times and the lead change hands on three occasions. Navy tuned a 20-19 advantage into a 24-20 lead, but allowed Lehigh to score the next five points to take a 25-24 lead. The teams traded sideouts until the Mountain Hawks converted on their third chance to serve for the set.
The loss was the first by Navy in the opening set in a league match this year and was just the third time the Mids have lost the first stanza in its 28 matches this season.
The second set was tied at 19-19 when the Mids went on a 4-1 run to take a 23-20 lead. This time, Navy was able to finish out the frame and tie the match at one set apiece.
Lehigh went on a little run midway through the third set to turn a 14-12 lead into an 18-13 advantage, which was enough for the Mountain Hawks to win the set. The 19 points scored by the Mids was just the second time they have been held below 20 points in sets one through four in league play this year. Lehigh won the set despite hitting just .088 in the frame, and that was because it held Navy to a (-).056 mark.
The Mountain Hawks then took a 3-0 lead at the start of the fourth set only to see the Mids take a 13-10 lead. It was soon an 18-16 Navy advantage that turned into a 20-17 lead. The Mids then scored the ensuing five points to send the match into a fifth set. Unlike the third set, Navy held a .359-.106 advantage in hitting percentage in the fourth set.
Navy went on a 4-0 run early in the fifth set to take a 6-3 lead. The Mids soon led 9-7 only to see the Mountain Hawks go on a 7-0 run to take a 14-9 lead.
Navy would end the match with a slight overall advantage in hitting percentage, .210-.201, but that was limited by the Mids being out hit .208-.091 in the fifth set. Lehigh would hold statistical leads of 67-58 in kills and 74-69 in digs, with Navy holding slim advantages of 5-3 in aces and 10-9 in blocks.
“We started digging better as the match went on,” said Bock. “Lehigh really went after us on the pins. That is something we will need to address in the coming days. It was a down night of serving for us, comparatively speaking to how we have been serving this year. But that was no surprise with the configuration of the gym. It is really tight for all of the servers. We needed to find other ways to earn points to balance that out.”
Tara Dotzauer (Sr., Raleigh, N.C.) produced 14 kills, a .345 hitting percentage and three blocks for Navy. Her positional counterpart on Lehigh, Ana Spangenberg, tallied 26 kills, a .246 attack percentage, 15 digs and four blocks.
“Both teams were led by their opposite hitters,” said Bock. “Both Spangenberg and Dotzauer were equally good tonight. The difference was in the volume of attacks between the players (Spangenberg had 61 attempts and Dotzauer had 29).
Navy middle hitter Sarena Seelbach (So., Chapel Hill, N.C.) totaled 13 kills, fellow middle Katie Patrick (Jr., Aurora, Colo.) had nine kills and eight blocks, and outside hitter Maddi Sgattoni (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) recorded 11 kills, 14 digs, four blocks and three service aces. Additionally, Sydney Shearn (Jr., Louisville, Ky.) and Olivia Kluger (Sr., Carmel, Ind.) each grabbed 15 digs for the Mids.
“It was a great match by Maddi,” said Bock. “She hit us out of trouble the whole night.”
Navy will close the regular season Sunday by playing host to Army at noon in the Wesley A. Brown Field House. The Black Knights will play host to Lehigh Friday before facing the Mids on Sunday.
Patriot League Standings (Remaining Matches)
1. *13-1 American (Nov. 10 vs. Colgate, Nov. 12 vs. Bucknell)
2. *11-4 Navy (Nov. 12 vs. Army)
3. *10-4 Army (Nov. 10 vs. Lehigh, Nov. 12 at Navy)
4. 9-6 Lehigh (Nov. 10 at Army)
5. 8-6 Colgate (Nov. 10 at American, Nov. 12 vs. Lafayette)
6. 7-7 Bucknell (Nov. 10 at Holy Cross, Nov. 12 at American)
7. 4-11 Loyola (Nov. 11 at Holy Cross)
8. 2-13 Lafayette (Nov. 12 vs. Colgate)
9. 1-13 Holy Cross (Nov. 10 vs. Bucknell, Nov. 11 vs. Loyola)
*=Clinched berth in Patriot League Tournamentv