BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team wrapped up an impressive final weekend with a convincing 3-1 win over Navy on Saturday. A day after battling first place American toe-to-toe, the Mountain Hawks downed the Midshipmen to finish the season at 13-13, 7-7 in Patriot League play.
It marks the second straight season the Mountain Hawks finished 7-7 in league play. Last year, it was good enough for the fourth and final Patriot League Tournament spot, but it fell just short this season as Lehigh finished fifth.
With three players out, the Mountain Hawks played with only eight players, including five freshmen.
"I’m proud of this weekend, being able to face such adversity [and succeed]," said head coach Jenny Maurer. "We’ve had players step up who haven’t seen a whole lot of time. We’ve had to switch positions and change our offense completely. To step up and finish [today], that just shows so much character, so much tenacity and so much promise with how young we are."
Lehigh opened up a tight first set - which stood tied at 14 - by winning four of the next five points for an 18-15 lead on its way to the 25-19 win. The Midshipmen bounced back by jumping out to a 9-3 second-set lead on their way to a 25-16 victory. The deficit stayed at or around six for most of the way until Navy closed it out with three straight points.
The Mountain Hawks answered right back for a hard-fought 25-20 win in the third set and easier 25-16 victory in the fourth. They turned the aggressors, jumping out to a 10-2 lead. The Midshipmen did make it interesting, however, pulling to as close as 19-18, but Lehigh won six of the final eight points to go up, 2-1. Lehigh then jumped out to a similarly quick start in the fourth set, leading by as much as 13-5 before cruising to victory.
Freshman Courtney McCutchan led the way with a double-double behind a team-high 15 kills along with 10 digs. Sophomore Taylor Poole also posted 14 kills while Poole led with a .455 attack percentage followed by freshman Paige Kruse at .385. Freshman Dana Raber had a game-high 15 digs while McCutchan and freshman Lizzy Silverstein each had 10.
"You always want to finish the year on the most positive note and [today] put the exclamation point on this season," said Maurer. "A win is the finishing touch. It leaves us with so much to build upon.
"The skills of stepping up in adverse situations will carry over into the workforce," she continued. "We’re constantly talking to our players about how some of the lessons they learn on the court transcend a sport and will be applicable for life. Not only did we become better volleyball players [this season], but I think they learned more about themselves and what they’re capable of as people and competitors."