Posted: October 10, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – It looked like Lehigh was never going to be able to finish off its archrival on Friday night. The Mountain Hawks had already lost a 2-0 set lead and were facing Lafayette in a fifth and deciding set. Now they had been unable to seal the deal with five-consecutive match points in the final set.
But the Mountain Hawks found a way.
With the raucous crowd of 288 people in Leeman- Turner Arena making it hard for both teams to hear the signals, Mo McReynolds wound up for the kill and saw her strike go directly into the Lafayette block. But the junior captain had another chance, and this time she made it count, driving home the kill for the 19-17 fifth-set victory.
“We showed a lot of grit tonight,” Lehigh head coach Jenny Maurer said. “We could have easily cashed it in, but this match just meant too much to us.”
With the win, the Mountain Hawks move to 6-12 (2-3) on the season, while the Leopards drop to 1-4 in the Patriot League. Mountain Hawks improved their record against their archrival school to 42-28 in this, the 69th meeting all time between the squads.
Five players scored at least 10 kills on the match, with Angelika Kopacz leading the way with 15 kills. Four players picked up at least 10 digs, led by Brittany Thurston’s 17. Kopacz notched her second-consecutive double-double with 15 kills and 15 digs.
The Mountain Hawks made 32 errors over the course of the five sets, but Maurer said the team actually passed much better than the numbers suggest.
“I feel like we played a very complete game,” she said. “We showed we can attack, we showed we can play with finesse and we showed we can finish.”
Lehigh started out strong, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead by winning the first two sets. The Mountain Hawks ground out a 26-24 victory that was as close as the score indicates, with neither team showing any signs of an advantage.
The second set was equally as competitive, as both teams went on runs but were able to finish the other squad off. With the score knotted at 25, the large crowd rose to its feet and urged the Mountain Hawks on to the 27-25 set win.
After the intermission Lehigh was unable to close the door on the Leopards. Lafayette bounced back with 25-22 and 25-23 set wins to even out the match.
In crunch time, the Mountain Hawks leaned on a player who was making her 2008 Leeman-Turner Arena debut. Kristin Musbach, who had missed the first 14 matches due to injury, became one of the team’s leaders on the floor. Musbach contributed to the team with 10 kills and just one error, but her biggest contribution was the energy she brought. Whenever the Mountain Hawks were down, Musbach was jumping up and down encouraging her teammates.
“She’s a firecracker,” Maurer said. “Kristin definitely adds a huge dynamic to us with her energy. Teams had been camped on our other hitters and she just stepped up as our secret weapon.”
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Friday, October 17, when they travel to West Point, N.Y. to battle with the Army Black Knights.
Highlights of Lehigh vs. Lafayette, October 10, 2008