Sept. 27, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team will return to the Wesley A. Brown Field House this weekend for a pair of Patriot League matches. The Midshipmen will open the weekend by playing host to Lehigh Friday at 7 p.m., then will close it by facing Lafayette Saturday at Noon.
There is no admission charge for any home volleyball match.
Links to free live statistics from both of Navy's matches this weekend will be available at NavySports.com. Additionally, a video stream of Friday's match against Lehigh will be offered to Navy All-Access subscribers. A one-month subscription costs $9.95, while a year-long subscription is $79.95. Subscribe or log-in to Navy All-Access at NavySports.com.
Only those fans with a Department of Defense sticker affixed to their vehicle are allowed to drive onto the USNA grounds. All other fans wishing to attend either of the volleyball matches must either park in downton Annapolis and walk through the security gate or ride the free shuttle bus to and from the USNA. The shuttle bus on Friday night will originate from and return to the Blue (west) side parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (550 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Md. 21401). However, due to Saturday afternoon's Navy football game against San Jose State taking place at the stadium, the shuttle bus that day will instead utilize the Truman Road / Riva Road park-and-ride lot. While the shuttle bus itself is free on either day, there is a $5 per vehicle charge for parking on Friday.
Navy began Patriot League play last week by winning a three-set decision over Holy Cross and dropping a four-set match to Army. Setter Alex Karika (Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa.) distributed the ball around nicely in the two matches as five different Mids tallied at least 10 kills on the weekend. Leading all players in kills was Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) with 23. Case Trimble (So., Orlando, Fla.) also had a strong weekend for the Navy offense. She knocked down a career-high eight kills against Holy Cross before breaking that standard with 11 kills against Army.
Putting together solid efforts as both an offensive and defensive player were Alex Cassel
(So., Sandy, Utah), who notched 19 kills and 16 blocks against the Crusaders and Black Knights, and Carolyn Ewert
(Sr., Bakersfield, Calif.), who posted 16 kills and grabbed 21 digs in the two matches.
In looking at Navy's passing game last weekend, libero Christy Rapp (Sr., Royal Oak, Mich.) snared a Navy-best 34 digs while defensive specialist Jamie Francona (Fr., Chestnut Hill, Mass.) totaled 21 digs in her most extensive playing time of the season.
"We feel good about how well we competed last weekend," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "We had a really aggressive approach to both matches. We want to continue that this weekend, while at the same time fine-tuning some things. If we can do that, we will remain on progress for the development of this team.
"We need to be able to play two good matches in a row. We have seen that we can be successful if we can hit .200 and sideout two-thirds of the time. That will be a focus for us this week."
Though this is only the second weekend of the Patriot League season, after play ends on Saturday Navy will have only three more home matches left for the remainder of the year, with two of those matches slated for the final weekend of the campaign. The Mids will play each of their next five matches and seven of their next eight matches in all away from Annapolis.
"Our upcoming schedule makes this a very important weekend for us," said Bock. "You don't want to say the second weekend of the season is one of `must win' matches, but we are close to having that."
Navy is one of four teams in the Patriot League to split its two matches on the opening weekend of league play. The Mids will be facing two of those three additional teams this weekend.
Lehigh began its Patriot League campaign by dropping a three-set decision to Colgate and defeating Bucknell in four sets. The Mountain Hawks were selected to place third in the league this season after finishing in third place one year ago.
Lehigh has won each of the last six matches it has played against Navy. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Mids in three sets in both matches last season.
Lafayette, which was picked to place eighth in the Patriot League this season, began league play by defeating Bucknell in four sets and losing to Colgate in three sets. The Leopards finished the 2011 season by finishing in a tie for sixth place in the Patriot League.
Three of the last four and four of the last six matches between Navy and Lafayette have been five-set contests. The teams have played 27 sets against each other during this time, with 11 of those sets being decided by just two points and 16 sets in all determined by no more than five points. The Leopards have won three-straight matches in the series with the Mids. Lafayette posted a four-set win over Navy last year in Easton and a five-set victory (15-13 in the fifth set) in Annapolis.