Oct. 11, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team will close the first half of the Patriot League season this weekend with matches Friday at Colgate and Saturday at Bucknell. Friday's match in Hamilton, N.Y., will begin at 6 p.m., with Saturday's match in Lewisburg, Pa., slated for a 5 p.m. start.
Links to live statistics from both of Navy's matches this weekend can be found at NavySports.com. Colgate also will be offering a live video stream of Friday's match for $5.95. A link to that can also be obtained by visiting NavySports.com.
Navy finds itself in the heart of the race for the four-team Patriot League Tournament. Colgate leads the league with a 5-0 record and Army is alone in second place with a mark of 4-1. Following directly behind the Black Knights are Navy, American and Lehigh, which share third place with identical records of 3-2.
In addition to this weekend's matches having an impact on the playoff race, a victory in either match would allow Navy to post a winning record in the first half of the Patriot League season for the first time since tallying a 4-3 record during the 2007 campaign. That also was the last time a Navy team both ended a season with a winning record and advanced to the league tournament.
Navy dropped a five-set match to American in the lone match it played last week. The Mids posted identical 25-23 victories in sets one and two before the Eagles rallied to win the next three sets by scores of 25-14, 25-21 and 15-7, respectively. It was the third consecutive Navy match and the fifth match this season for the Mids in which a team held a 2-0 lead in sets only to lose the match. Navy has twice overcome a 0-2 deficit to win a match and has let a 2-0 lead slip away three times.
"The recent pattern of our matches is symptomatic of having a young, talented team," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "Judging from our practices this week, we are improving daily at maintaining the proper intensity level for a full two hours. We may have young players, but they are tough and are getting what it takes to consistently compete at a high level."
In league play this fall, Navy ranks third in the league in hitting percentage (.197), is fourth in kills (12.18 kps) and assists (11.59) and ranks fifth in digs (14.86 dps). The Mids are also sixth in blocks (1.91 bps) and opponent hitting percentage (.206) and rank seventh in aces (1.09 saps).
Individually for the Mids, Alex Karika (Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa.) leads the league with her average of 10.14 assists per set, Alex Cassel (So., Sandy, Utah) is second in the league in blocks (1.36 bps) and 10th in hitting percentage (.294), Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) is fourth in kills (3.25 kps), Christy Rapp (Sr., Royal Oak, Mich.) stands fifth in digs (4.50 dps) and Katie Sylakowski (Fr., Escondido, Calif.) ranks fifth in service aces (0.41 saps) and sixth in hitting percentage (.310)
Colgate's 5-0 league record contrasts greatly with the 2-11 record -- which included losses to Arizona State, UC Irvine, Loyola Marymount and Nebraska -- it compiled in its non-league matches this season. The Raiders have dropped just two sets -- one at Army, one at Bucknell -- through their five league matches. Aiding Colgate's effort since the start of conference play has been its ability to win close sets. The Raiders are 9-2 in sets played during the league season that have been decided by five or fewer points.
Colgate as a team leads the Patriot League in service aces (1.82 saps) and digs (18.29 dps), ranks second in opponent hitting percentage (.119), kills (13.82 kps) and assists (12.59 aps) and is third in blocks (2.53 bps). Individually, Caitlin Cremin leads the league in both digs (5.53 dps) and aces (0.53 saps), Kaylee Fifer stands second in hitting percentage (.422), while Lindsay Young and Diane Sealy rank third in kills (3.41 kps) and blocks (1.35 bps), respectively.
Navy has dropped 13 straight matches to Colgate and has lost on each of its last seven trips to Hamilton. The Raiders posted a four-set win over the Mids last year in Annapolis and won a three-set match from Navy on its home floor.
"Colgate is on a remarkable run since the start of league play," said Bock. "We look forward to the challenge of playing a great, hot team in a hostile environment."
Bucknell enters a Friday night match at home against American in search of its first league win of the season. The Bison have dropped four league matches in four sets and one in three sets (at Army) thus far this fall, but the majority of the sets they have played have been very close ones. Bucknell has played 19 sets in its five league matches, with 14 of those sets decided by no more than five points. The Bison have posted a 4-10 record in these close sets, which includes a mark of 2-7 in sets decided by either two (2-5) or three (0-2) points.
Bucknell ranks third in the Patriot League in digs (16.21 dps), is fourth in blocks (2.47 bps) and service aces (1.37 saps) and ranks fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.185) and assists (10.74 aps). Also, Kebah Edoho ranks fifth in the league in hitting percentage (.324), Kat Tauscher is sixth in asists (7.26 aps) and Karen Campbell is sixth in blocks (1.21 bps).
Navy and Bucknell split a pair of matches during the 2011 season, with the home team winning both matches. The Mids posted a five-set win in Annapolis while the Bison picked up a four-set win in Lewisburg. Six of the nine sets the teams played last year were decided by just two points, including three of four sets -- the remaining set was determined by three points -- of the match won by the Bison.
Bucknell has won six of the last eight matches in the series, including three of the last four that have been played in Davis Gym.
"Bucknell is way better than its won-loss record indicates," said Bock, "as evident by how they played Colgate last week. I am sure they will be looking at Navy as one of the `circled' matches they will play in the always fun Davis Gym."