EASTON, Pa. – Despite dropping a tightly-contested first set, the Lehigh volleyball team rallied for a convincing 3-1 win over rival Lafayette on Thursday. The Mountain Hawks hit .220 as a team and served up 17 aces on the night, including six from sophomore Taylor Poole. With the victory, Lehigh improves to 8-9 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League.
"Our setters did a great job distributing the ball tonight," Lehigh head coach Jenny Maurer said. "They took the pressure off our go-to hitters. We got a lot of contribution from the right side tonight, players like Hannah Bennett and Brittany Reichwein really came alive."
The Leopards prevailed by a 25-23 margin in the opening set, before the tides decidedly turned in Lehigh’s favor. The Brown and White took the second set, 25-19, and coasted to a 25-13 win in the third set and a 25-14 win in the fourth set.
"The first game is always completely mental," Maurer explained. "We had to settle our jitters. When we settled down and got over the rivalry side of things and played our game, we proved to be the better team."
In addition to Poole’s six aces, the sophomore added eight kills, four digs and three block assists, while hitting .294 in the match. Freshman Courtney McCutchan chipped in 11 kills and 19 digs for her 10th double-double of the year and her fifth in the last six matches. McCutchan’s 19 digs set a new career high and tied with freshman Rachel Charles for the most in the match. Junior Angelika Kopacz also posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs, while junior Jessica Kudirka registered a match-high 26 assists. The Mountain Hawks are now 7-3 this season when Kopacz records a double-double.
Kayly Elmer led Lafayette (4-14, 0-5 Patriot League) with seven kills to go along with seven digs. Christy Mebust chipped in 12 digs and Molly Belcher added 21 assists.
Lehigh has now won 44 of 73 all-time matches against Lafayette dating back to 1974. The Mountain Hawks have won two straight vs. Lafayette overall after dispatching the Leopards in Easton last season on October 30. Lehigh’s 17 service aces on Thursday set a new record for the Jenny Maurer era, surpassing the 16 aces Lehigh earned against Providence on September 11, 2009.
"We had some pretty lethal serves tonight," Maurer admitted. "The credit goes to our assistant, Jesse [Blazek]. He had them scouted pretty well, and between his calls and the players’ execution, it was a pretty good combination tonight."
Lehigh is now 4-0 against Lafayette as a department this season after defeating the leopards in men’s and women’s cross country on September 25 and taking down the Leopards in men’s soccer on October 1.
With the victory on Thursday, the Mountain Hawks improve to 7-6 in road/neutral site matches this season. Lehigh will have four more regular season road matches this year, with the next two scheduled for October 15 at Navy and October 16 at American. Navy currently sits in eighth place in the league standings with an 0-4 league record, while American stands on top of the table with a perfect 4-0 league mark.