Nov. 11, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - After letting a late lead at the end of the fourth set slip away, a furious rally in the fifth set fell just short for the Navy volleyball in a loss to Lafayette Friday night at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis. The Leopards would defeat the Midshipmen by scores of 25-20, 19-25, 14-25, 25-23 and 15-13.
"This match was a lot like our entire season," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "We played so hard. A lot of teams would have packed it in for the season some time ago, and they wouldn't have been able to put together a rally in the fifth set as we did tonight. But to the credit of our players, they kept fighting. We also had extended stretches where we played solid volleyball, in particular in the second and third sets. But we also had stretches where we needed to clean things up more."
With Navy (6-22, 1-13 Patriot League) holding a 2-1 lead in sets over Lafayette (10-16, 3-10), the Mids jumped out to a 16-12 advantage midway through the fourth set. The Leopards responded with a 5-0 run to knot the score at 17-17. Navy would hold several two-point cushions before Lafayette tied the score again at 21-21. A Lafayette service error and a kill by Katie Bray (Jr., Cary, N.C.) would give the Mids a 23-21 lead. The Leopards again responded, this time with a 4-0 run to win the set and force a decisive fifth set.
Lafayette carried over its late fourth-set run into the start of the fifth set and quickly took a 7-1 lead. The Leopards soon held a 13-8 lead, but this time it was Navy that put together a rally. The Mids scored five consecutive points to tie the score at 13-13. Lafayette's Alana Taylor tallied a kill on the ensuing play to take the Leopards to match point, which they converted on a kill by Kaitlynn Zoeller.
Both teams recorded 53 kills in the match, with Navy holding slight edges in hitting percentage (.219-.208), and digs (61-59). The Mids would double the number of service aces recorded by the Leopards, 12-6, but Lafayette posted 8.0 team blocks to Navy's 6.0.
Pacing all offensive players in the match was Navy's Erin Fortner
(So., Villa Hills, Ky.), who knocked down 23 kills and hit .264. The 23 kills was a career high for Fortner, who also hauled in 10 digs for the Navy defense. Joining Fortner with double-double kills was Carolyn Ewert
(Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.) with 12. Team captain Holy Berger (Sr., Claremont, Calif.) dropped in five service aces and led all Mids with 17 digs in the match. Bray also had a strong all-around night as she finished with 15 digs and eight kills.
"Erin was great tonight," said Bock. "And it was a great bounce back match for Carolyn. I was pleased with the play of our outside hitters, and on the whole our passing was good too."
Zoller posted 14 kills to lead the Lafayette offense.
Navy will close its 2011 season Saturday at 4 p.m. when the Mids play host to Lehigh.
"We raised the level of our play from last week to tonight," said Bock. "We are going to have to see another increase Saturday."