Posted: November 13, 2009
WORCESTER, Mass. – For the first time since 2003, the Lehigh Volleyball team is headed to the Patriot League tournament. The Mountain Hawks clinched a spot in the four-team field with a 3-1 win over Holy Cross Friday night at the Holy Cross Field House. Sophomore Angelika Kopacz led three players in double figures with 16 kills while classmate Brittany Reichwein added 14 kills and hit .542 for the match as the Mountain Hawks even their record at 14-14 overall and move to 7-6 in the Patriot League.
“It’s definitely a great moment for our program,” said Lehigh head coach Jenny Maurer. “Our girls have worked hard and played with great pride and we’re thrilled to be heading to the Patriot League tournament.
Lehigh needed to overcome a slow start on Friday night. The Mountain Hawks needed just one win to clinch a postseason berth, but fell behind by as many as seven points in the first set, before battling back. The Crusaders led 21-18 before Lehigh closed the set on a 7-1 run to win the set 25-22.
“We got off to somewhat of a slow start after a long trip up to Worcester,” said Maurer. “We had to come from behind early and showed great composure to battle back.”
Holy Cross continued to hang tough evened the match at a set apiece with a 25-19 win in the second set.
In the third set, Maurer made a tactical change, switching two a 5-1 offense, and the Mountain Hawks responded by pulling away late to win 25-22. Lehigh then clinched the match in the fourth set, pulling away with a 6-0 run that turned a 9-8 lead into a 15-8 advantage. The Mountain Hawks maintained a comfortable lead before Kopacz clinched the postseason berth with her 16th and final kill of the night to win the fourth set 25-17.
Lehigh finished the match with a .295 hitting percentage. Sophomore Chelsea Sheridan joined Kopacz and Reichwein in double figures with 13 kills. Sophomore Emma Melendez led the Mountain Hawks with 21 digs, while Kopacz completed a double-double with 15. Sophomore Jessica Kudirka emerged as the primary setter in the final two sets and finished with 49 assists.
“Brittany (Reichwein) had a huge match for us with her 14 kills,” explained Maurer. “We switched things up to a 5-1 and Jess (Kudirka) did a great job. Our middles really stepped up and played well. I’m proud of how well we played in the final two sets, and it really was a total team effort.”
The Crusaders (5-23, 3-10 PL) hit .182 for the match and were led by Samantha Surface and Megan Lynch with 14 kills apiece.
The Mountain Hawks will wrap-up the regular season on Saturday when they visit Army. The match gets underway at 6 p.m. from Gillis Field House at West Point, N.Y.