Posted: November 21, 2009
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Lehigh's 2009 season came to an end Saturday afternoon as the Mountain Hawks fell 3-0 to Army in first round action of the Patriot League Tournament. The Black Knights were able to win the first two sets by a score of 25-14 and come from behind in the third to advance to the Championship match Sunday afternoon. After winning eight matches last season Lehigh showed great improvement this season and made the tournament for the first time since 2003. The Brown and White finished the season at 14-16 overall and 7-8 in Patriot League play.
“We had some first time jitters,” head coach Jenny Maurer said. “We were able to settle down in the third set, but Army really played very well. They played like an experienced team that has been there before and we showed our youth. I was proud that we settled down, but we just couldn’t put the ball away.
Army was able to build a 10-2 lead in the first set and Lehigh struggled to get its attack going throughout the set. The Black Knights were able to win 25-14.
In the second set the Black Knights once again started off fast as they jumped out to a 10-3 lead. Army was able to maintain the big lead and win the set.
The two teams battled it out in the third set and with the score tied at 10 the Mountain Hawks were able to pull ahead. The Brown and White had a 21-18 lead, but couldn’t finish as Army came back and ended the match 26-24.
“We were close to finishing the third set and then it got tight again,” Maurer said. “We played a lot more relentless, but late in the set we made some key errors and Army having been there before was able to capitalize. In a rally match you can never get comfortable because the momentum can switch at any moment.”
Freshman Taylor Poole led Lehigh with seven kills and a .263 hitting percentage. For her efforts Poole was selected to the All-Tournament team. Sophomore Emma Melendez, the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, had a team-high 18 digs.
Maurer commented on the development of Poole, “When we recruited Taylor one of the things that really stood out to us was how composed she was. She has learned to score better without just killing the ball and she never gets rattled.”
Despite the loss the Mountain Hawks showed great strides in 2009. Lehigh had its ups and downs, but in the key moments it was able to put everything together and come up big. The future looks bright for the Brown and White as it heads into the off season.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get into the tournament,” Maurer said. “Everybody wants to win a championship, but first you have to get there and then raise the bar. I am proud because we were able to take the experiences we learned at the different stages throughout the season and respond in the moment. Heading into the off season we have to remember everything that it took to get us here and work even harder. We have to raise our expectations.”