Oct. 15, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team will close out a stretch of three-straight matches on the road Wednesday night when it plays at Loyola in a 7 p.m. match in Baltimore. The match will be the first Patriot League meeting between the two teams.
Links to free live statistics and free live video -- via the Patriot League Digital Network -- are available at NavySports.com.
Navy enters the week in fifth place in the Patriot League standings, with Loyola in sixth place just one win in back of the Mids.
"The first step in any big picture plan for us is to get into the four-team playoff at the end of the year," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "Our match at Loyola is a critical match for us to attain that objective."
Navy split a pair of matches last weekend to see its overall record on the year move to 7-10 and its Patriot League mark remain at the .500 level (3-3). The weekend began with the Mids posting a 3-0 win over Holy Cross and ended with Navy losing in three sets at Army.
Navy enjoyed a strong hitting night in posting a 25-18, 25-21, 25-13 win over Holy Cross Friday night in Worcester, Mass. The Mids outhit the Crusaders .313-.120 on the night, including by a .520-.207 margin in the third set. Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) posted 11 kills, hit .474 and snared eight digs for Navy, while Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) tallied 10 kills, hit .500 and posted five blocks.
Fortunes were reversed for the Mids Saturday in West Point, N.Y., as Army hit .363 and held Navy to a mark of .096 as the Black Knights recorded a 25-17, 25-14, 25-18 win. Fortner again paced the Navy offense with nine kills, while Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) was close behind with seven kills.
The Mids entered last weekend atop the league statistical rankings for blocking average, but ended the weekend ranking second with a season-long average of 2.40 blocks per set. Navy also ranks fourth in the league in opponent hitting percentage (.193), fifth in hitting percentage (.218), kills (12.85 kps) and assists (12.20 aps), sixth in aces (1.50 saps) and seventh in digs (14.20 dps).
Navy is averaging about one-third of a kill more than its opponents are this season (12.85-12.50 kps) and has recorded one more service ace than its foes have (30-29).
Fortner remains the top offensive player in the Patriot League with a league-high average of 3.90 kills per set, while both she and Sylakowski rank among the league leaders in attack percentage with marks of .331 (seventh) and .306 (10th), respectively. Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) is third in the league in assist average (10.40 aps), Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) is fourth in aces (0.45 saps) and fifth in digs (4.40 dps) and Cassel ranks second in blocks (1.20 bps).
Loyola has posted a 2-5 record in its first season as a member of the Patriot League, as well as a 5-14 record on the full season. The Greyhounds have suffered league losses to Lehigh (3-0), American (3-0), Army (3-2), Bucknell (3-1) and Colgate (3-1) and have recorded wins over Lafayette (3-1) and Holy Cross (3-1). In losses last weekend at Bucknell and Colgate, four of the combined six sets Loyola lost were by five or fewer points.
"Loyola has shown a bit of a split personality with some terrific performances in losses against Army and at both Bucknell and Colgate," said Bock. "We have to get ready to both see their best game and, for us, to turn the page on a tough Army match."
Loyola ranks third in the Patriot League during the league season with a .219 attack percentage. The squad also ranks fifth in the league in aces (1.52 saps), sixth in kills (12.00 kps), and assists (11.19 aps), seventh in opponent hitting percentage (.217) and blocks (1.72 bps) and ninth in digs (12.93 dps).
Despite having a record under .500 in league matches, Loyola is not only outhitting its foes (.219-.217), it also has posted more kills (12.00-11.48 kps) and digs (12.93-11.85 dps) than its opponents have and has tallied a nearly identical number of service aces (45 for opponents, 41 for Loyola).
Individually for Loyola, Jac Bullock ranks among the league leaders in both kills (fourth, 3.15 kps) and hitting percentage (eighth, .322), while teammates Jade Van Streepen stands third in kills (3.50 kps) and Mindy Maloney ranks third in hitting percentage (.368). Maloney also ranks seventh in blocks (0.96 bps) and Lauren Anderson ranks seventh in assists (7.11 aps).
"Loyola has a good offense," said Bock, "one that is getting a lot of first contact kills. We will need to get into rallies and serve beyond what we did against Army."
The Greyhounds compiled an overall record of 13-15 and placed eighth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with a mark of 6-11 last season.
Navy and Loyola last met in 2009 when the Greyhounds posted a 3-0 win over the Mids. Navy holds a 27-11-1 advantage over Loyola in the all-time series between the two teams, but that lead shrinks to just 10-8 in matches played since Navy moved to the Division I level in 1991. The Mids have posted an 8-6 record against the Greyhounds in matches played at Loyola, including a 2-4 mark as a Division I program.