PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Lehigh volleyball team defeated St. Francis (Pa.), 3-1, to earn a split on Friday in the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational to open the 2010 season. Junior Angelika Kopacz notched a double-double with 13 kills and 14 digs to lift the Mountain Hawks to their first victory of the year. Earlier in the day, Lehigh fell to Duquesne in the tournament opener by a 3-0 count.
“I really liked how we controlled the tempo of that second game,” Lehigh head coach Jenny Maurer said. “We knew St. Francis wouldn’t roll over, but we stayed composed and finished the match. Any time you finish a match with a positive aces-to-errors ratio, that’s a great sign.”
Junior Jessica Kudirka finished the second match with 20 assists in addition to seven digs and three service aces. Freshman Courtney McCutchan also chipped in a strong effort with eight kills and 16 digs, while fellow newcomer Dana Raber provided 11 assists and eight digs.
Lehigh opened the second match of the day with a 25-14 victory in the first set, but came up short in the second set by a 25-23 margin. The Mountain Hawks responded, however, with a gritty 25-21 win in the third set, before sealing the match with a 25-17 victory in the fourth set.
In the opening match against Duquesne, Lehigh fell in straight sets, 25-21, 25-10 and 25-15.
“Duquesne was a good test for us,” Maurer admitted. “I don’t think the scores were really indicative of how well we played, though. It was neck and neck in the first set and we had the lead in the third set as well.”
Kopacz led the way in the first match as well with eight kills and seven digs. Kudirka chipped in with 12 of Lehigh’s 22 assists, while sophomore Taylor Poole notched four kills and added a service ace.
Six freshmen saw their first collegiate action against Duquesne, including libero Rachel Charles who posted a team-high nine digs. Fellow newcomers Paige Kruse and Amanda Clark each added three kills, while Lizzy Silverstein crushed a pair of kills and McCutchan notched seven digs.
“We were really disciplined on defense today,” Maurer said. “In both matches, we did well closing our blocks. This is the best defense I’ve seen us play so far.”
The Mountain Hawks return to the floor on Saturday for day two of the tournament against Robert Morris at 11 a.m. and Radford at 3 p.m.