Last Road Match of Regular Season Ahead of Volleyball
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– The Navy volleyball team will play its final road match of the regular season Tuesday when the Mids (21-6, 11-3 Patriot League) play at Lehigh (17-11, 8-6) in a 7 p.m. match in Bethlehem, Pa.
Links to live statistics and free live video via the Patriot League Network from the match can be found at NavySports.com.
Navy is in a slightly different situation than it has been the last several years in that it has already assured itself of a berth in the four-team Patriot League Tournament that will be played No. 18-19 at the No. 1 seed in the event. The Mids didn’t secure their trip to the 2016 league tournament until after they had finished their 15th match (of 16) that year and qualified for the 2014 edition of the tournament with a victory in its final match of the regular season.
While Navy is in the tournament, its placement is still up in the air as it could place first, second or third in the final standings. The Mids currently sit in second place, two wins in back of first-place American and one victory in front of third-place Army West Point. Navy holds the tiebreaker over American and will close the regular season Sunday by playing host to Army, who the Mids lost to in five sets earlier this year.
On the other side of the net Tuesday, Lehigh is in the midst of fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Mountain Hawks are tied with Colgate for fourth place, with those two teams one win ahead of sixth-place Bucknell. Lehigh holds the tiebreaker over both Colgate and Bucknell, and the Raiders hold the tiebreaker over the Bison. Victories in both matches this week could propel Lehigh all the way into the No. 3 spot in the tournament (it ends the year playing Friday at Army).
“The remarkable thing about this year’s team is that they are so competitive as a group,” said Navy head coach Larry Bock. “We really have not had to oversell a match to them. They understand all of the implications and ramifications, but no matter what those are when the whistle blows for the first serve they just go out and play hard.
“We also know from our October experiences the importance of keeping the pedal down on the floor and finishing drills, practices, sets, matches and the Patriot League schedule strong.”
Navy improved its league record to 11-3 with a pair of road wins at Bucknell on Friday and at Lafayette on Saturday. The Mids defeated the Bison in four sets (25-17, 15-25, 25-22, 25-21) and the Leopards in three sets (25-14, 25-11, 25-16). Navy held a .239-.209 advantage in hitting percentage over Bucknell and led Lafayette .405-.037. The weekend saw Navy’s middle hitters have one of their better collective back-to-back matches of the season as Katie Patrick (Jr., Aurora, Colo.), Sarena Seelbach (So., Raleigh, N.C.) and Melissa Carter (So., Seven Fields, Pa.) combined for 43 kills (6.14 kps) and just 10 attack errors on 83 attempts (.398).
“We turned things up a notch offensively,” said Bock on last weekend, “and our defenders became real demonic with not letting the ball hit the ground. It was really fun to witness. Any opponent who watches us play knows they have to respect our middle hitters. Their success this weekend was a function of the dig-pass-set execution of our passers and setters, as well as the middles doing a good job of putting the ball away when their opportunity arose.”
Lehigh enters the final week of the regular season after dropping a four-set decision to American on Saturday.
Navy posted a four-set win over Lehigh when the teams met October 10 in Annapolis. The Mids recorded a 25-19, 23-25, 25-14, 25-18 victory over the Mountain Hawks. Navy held a .236-.106 advantage in hitting percentage, as well as 9-5 leads in both aces and blocks.
Three Mids reached double figures in kills in that match. Maggie Phillips (Sr., Leesburg, Pa.) led all players with both 15 kills and a .433 attack percentage, Tara Dotzauer (Sr., Raleigh, N.C.) produced 11 kills and Maddi Sgattoni (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) recorded 10 kills, 10 digs and six service aces. Defensively for the Mids, Patrick registered seven blocks, Sydney Shearn (Jr., Louisville, Ky.) grabbed 22 digs and Patricia Mattingly (Jr., New Albany, Ind.) snared 10 digs to go along with four bocks and 43 assists.
Lehigh was led statistically by Ana Spangenberg with nine kills, Julia Pressly with eight kills and Emily Deville with 20 digs.
“We need to earn points Tuesday and not wait for potential Lehigh errors that may not happen,” said Bock. “Conversely, we need to keep doing a good job of making our opponents scratch, kick and scream for each and every point they get. We need to continue serving well and be real smart hitting when we are not in a position to terminate the ball.”
Patriot League Standings (Remaining Matches)
1. *13-1 American (Nov. 10 vs. Colgate, Nov. 12 vs. Bucknell)
2. *11-3 Navy (Nov. 7 at Lehigh, Nov. 12 vs. Army)
3. *10-4 Army (Nov. 10 vs. Lehigh, Nov. 12 at Navy)
T4. 8-6 Lehigh (Nov. 7 vs. Navy, Nov. 10 at Army)
T4. 8-6 Colgate (Nov. 10 at American, Nov. 12 vs. Lafayette)
6. 7-7 Bucknell (Nov. 10 at Holy Cross, Nov. 12 at American)
7. 3-11 Loyola (Nov. 7 vs. Lafayette, Nov. 11 at Holy Cross)
8. 2-12 Lafayette (Nov. 7 at Loyola, Nov. 12 vs. Colgate)
9. 1-13 Holy Cross (Nov. 10 vs. Bucknell, Nov. 11 vs. Loyola)
*=Clinched berth in Patriot League Tournament