Oct. 31, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After battling to come away with a three-set victory earlier in the week, the Navy volleyball team will be back in the Wesley A. Brown Field House for a pair of matches this weekend. The Midshipmen will play host to Lehigh Friday at 7 p.m. and Bucknell Saturday at 4 p.m.
Free live video via the Patriot League Digital Network for Friday's match will be available at NavySports.com, with live statistics from both matches offered at the web site.
All fans without a Department of Defense identification card will need to either park outside of the Naval Academy and walk through the security checkpoint or else ride the free shuttle bus to and from the matches. The shuttle bus will originate from and return to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (parking is $5. per vehicle). For directions, shuttle bus location and answers to other game day related questions, please visit the following link:
Game Day Information.
Navy saw its Patriot League record improve to 6-4 this season with a narrow 25-23, 26-24, 25-22 win over Loyola Tuesday night. The Mids relied on their outside hitting in the match as Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) posted 16 kills and a .452 attack percentage and Gaby Smith (Fr., Virginia Beach, Va.) finished the night with 10 kills and a .300 attack percentage. The duo accounted for 26 of Navy's 42 kills against the Greyhounds.
"We have been battling the prototypical mid-season struggles without a whole lot of damage being done," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "We know that we are going to have to hit the accelerator really soon, and we are aiming for it to be this weekend."
The win over the Greyhounds allowed the Mids to remain in fifth place in the Patriot League standings. Colgate sits atop the league with a 9-1 record this fall. The Raiders are percentage points in front of American, which has posted an 8-1 record but handed Colgate its lone league setback. Army is in third place with a 9-2 mark, while Lehigh, which defeated Army one week ago, is in fourth place with an 8-3 record.
Only the top-four teams at the end of the regular season will qualify for the Patriot League Tournament.
"We are already in a playoff-type mentality in that every match against every opponent, whether they are ahead or in back of us in the standings is important," said Bock. "It is so much fun to be in that at this juncture of the season."
Navy dropped a strange 26-24, 23-25, 25-23, 25-15 match to Lehigh on Sept. 28. Strange, because the team holding a sizable lead late in each of the first three sets eventually lost the frame. Navy held leads of 24-19 in the first set and 19-15 in the third set, while Lehigh held a 21-17 advantage over the Mids in the second set.
Most of the statistics between the teams were similar, except in hitting where Lehigh held advantages over Navy in both kills (58-47) and hitting percentage (.280-.194). Individually, Fortner's 15 kills led the Mids, while Kaylynn Genemaras paced the Mountain Hawks with 16 kills.
"Our first Lehigh match was a match of momentum," said Bock. "We probably could have just started each set at 20-20 to save everybody a lot of time.
"Both teams serve the ball really tough. I expect there will be a lot of fast scoring on Friday."
Bucknell enters a Friday match at American with a 2-9 record in league play. Navy handed the Bison one of their losses, a 25-17, 25-17, 25-20 decision in a match contested one day prior to when the Mids first faced Lehigh.
Navy posted 41 kills and hit .253 against Bucknell that night, while the Mids held the Bison to 27 kills and a .077 hitting percentage. Navy also accrued three more digs (34-31) and three more blocks (8-5) than Bucknell did.
Both Fortner and Olivia Yeager (So., Lutz, Fla.) knocked down 10 kills against the Bison, with Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) recording nine kills. On the other side of the net, Kristen Titely led the Bison with eight kills.
"We finished really well at Bucknell," said Bock. "They were without one of their best players for much of the match, so between them being back to full strength and having a recent upsurge, I think we will be playing a completely different team on Saturday than the one we saw just a few weeks ago."