Volleyball Heads to League Tournament for Match vs. Army
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ---- The No. 2 seed Navy (22-7, 12-4 Patriot League) volleyball team will face No. 3 Army West Point (18-11, 11-5) Saturday at 5 p.m. in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament. The Army-Navy match will be the second of the two semifinal round matches played at Bender Arena on the American campus in Washington, D.C. Top-seeded American (24-7, 15-1) will play host to fourth-seeded Lehigh (18-12, 9-7) at 2 p.m. in the opening to the doubleheader.
The semifinal winners will meet Sunday at 3 p.m. in the championship match of the tournament, with the winner of that match garnering the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Admission to the tournament is $8 for adults and $5 for both youth (17-and-under) and seniors (65-and-older). Additionally, current students from each of the four participating schools will be admitted for free by showing a valid school ID card at the ticket window.
Live statistics and a free live video stream of each of the three matches in the tournament will be available. Multimedia links to Navy's matches can be found on NavySports.com.
Players from Army and Navy accounted for nearly half of the 14 players recognized on one of the All-Patriot League teams announced this week, including four of the seven first-team honorees. The Mids earning post-season laurels were Patricia Mattingly (Jr., New Albany, Ind.), setter of the year and first-team all-league; Tara Dotzauer (Sr., Raleigh, N.C.), first team; and Katie Patrick (Jr., Aurora, Colo.), second team. Black Knights garnering an accolade were Carolyn Bockrath, first team; Vanessa Wesley, first team; and Amber Clay, second team.
Additionally, Navy head coach Larry Bock was recognized as the league's 2017 coach of the year and Mattingly was selected as the league's scholar-athlete of the year for the sport.
"Clearly our team is capable of and is right on the edge of being extremely good," said Bock. "It is hard to pinpoint any one denominator that has led to this improvement in our hitting, blocking, serving and overall competitive maturity. We do have a practice gym that raises everyone's game, and we have a steady freshman ---- Maddi Sgattoni (Pittsburgh, Pa.) ---- who is really good.
"It is a lose-and-you-cruise mentality for every team in the league this weekend. All four teams are playing for their playoff life. I really like how our team has approached its goal setting and the process it has gone through to reach those goals."
The two service academy programs met Sunday in Annapolis in the regular season finale for both teams. Navy came away with an 18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 16-25, 15-12 victory over Army. It shouldn't have been a surprise that the match went five sets as the first meeting of the season between the teams also went the distance ---- a 20-25, 20-25, 25-21, 34-32, 15-12 win by the Black Knights ---- as have three of the last four and four of the last six matches in the series.
Each of the 10 sets played between the teams this year were decided by single digits, with eight of them decided by no more than five points including five determined by three or fewer points.
Navy held a statistical edge over Army in blocks ---- 17-6 ---- during the most recent contest, but the Black Knights held advantages over the Mids in kills (69-52), attempts (179-167), hitting percentage (.218-.192), aces (7-6) and digs (75-63). That was very similar to the Oct. 14 meeting of the teams when Navy led Army 8-4 in blocks and 9-2 in aces while the Black Knights led the Mids in kills (84-67), hitting percentage (.273-.228) and digs (116-107).
Individually Sunday, Dotzauer paced the Mids with 17 kills and a .429 attack percentage, while Patrick recorded 14 kills, a .407 attack percentage and seven blocks. Army's Clay led the visitors with 20 kills.
Dotzauer also had a strong match the first time the teams met this season as she hit .408 in registering 22 kills. Leading all offensive players in that match was Bockrath with 23 kills (and a .404 hitting percentage). The liberos for the two teams also played great in the first match as Navy's Sydney Shearn (Jr., Louisville, Ky.) snared 46 digs and Army's Ellie Petersen grabbed 40 digs.
"Army outhit us, outdug us and outserved us Sunday," said Bock. "Obviously, those are three areas in which we need to pick it up. Both teams know each other very well and can anticipate the other team's rotations and how the personnel will be used. The team that simply executes the best will have the biggest advantage.
"The knowables for us are that we are healthy, seem to be playing with some pop on the ball and our technical abilities are trustworthy. We are in a good position to approach Saturday's match from the tactical standpoint."
Navy's No. 2 seed in the tournament is the highest for the Mids since also being the second seed in the 2005 tournament. The Mids placed solo second in the league this year, which is the best since sharing second place in 2005 and sharing the league's regular season title in 1999.
Army and Navy have met twice before in the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights defeated the Mids in both prior meetings which took place in the second round of the 1991 event and in the semifinal round of the 2005 tournament.