HARRISONBURG, Va. – After a tough five-set loss on Friday to James Madison, the Lehigh volleyball team bounced back to win two games on Saturday in the James Madison Invitational. After an impressive five-set comeback victory over Robert Morris in the first game, the Mountain Hawks rode the momentum and swept Coastal Carolina.
"The day went great and the girls really came back much better than expected after Friday’s loss," said head Bob Bertucci. "For them to come back and play as hard as they did, it really says a lot about them."
In the first match of the day, it was obvious there wasn’t going to be a lingering effect from the previous night’s five-set loss. Lehigh got off to a great start taking the first set against Robert Morris 25-22 behind 16 kills and an attack percentage of .279.
But fortunes reversed as the Mountain Hawks struggled mightily in the second and third set with an attack percentage of .091 and .061 respectively. And after just four attack errors in the first set, Lehigh committed a combined 14 in those next two sets falling 20-25 in the second and 23-25 in the third.
"We got out to a hot start and then they made some adjustments against us," said Bertucci. "But we made some adjustments of our own and I was really happy with how the girls responded."
The Mountain Hawks showed no quit as they pulled out the fourth set. Tied at 24, Lehigh took advantage of a pair of attack errors by Robert Morris to force a fifth set, Lehigh’s second in as many days. The night before, Lehigh ran out of steam against a bigger James Madison team.
This time, however, the Mountain Hawks got off to a quick 8-2 start and never looked back winning 15-9.
Lehigh had four players in double-figure kills for the match with senior Angelika Kopacz’s 12 kills leading the way. She added 19 digs while sophomore Amanda Clark, sophomore Paige Kruse and junior Taylor Poole had 10 kills each.
"The whole weekend was just a great team effort," said Bertucci. "We used the bench quite a bit and we had a number of people who gave someone a rest or had a specific role and they filled it."
Hanna Veith led the way for Robbert Morris with 17 kills and a .351 attack percentage while Lindsey Monger added 14 kills and 21 digs and Amanda Craig had 11 kills and 18 digs.
After a disappointing loss Friday night, Lehigh’s attitude turned around after the victory and it rode that momentum and confidence into the next match as the Mountain Hawks cruised to a straight-set victory over Coastal Carolina. Again leading the way for the Mountain Hawks was Lopacz who had 16 kills and 13 digs while sophomore Rachel Charles added 14 digs and Poole had six kills with a .455 attack percentage.
Kopacz and Charles were named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts.
"The five-set match the night before was really disappointing because we played so well even though we didn’t match up real well," said Bertucci. "We didn’t finish it in the fifth game so after reversing that and winning the fifth against Robert Morris, they were pretty excited and that energy carried over into the next match."
After winning the first set 25-21 against Coastal Carolina, Lehigh struggled a little in the second set. While the team had 15 kills, the Mountain Hawks committed 12 attack errors and thus let Coastal Carolina hang around. It was close the whole way as neither team had a bigger lead than three points, but Lehigh took advantage of two Coastal Carolina attack errors for the 26-24 win. Then in the third set, the Mountain Hawks cruised the whole way to a 25-12 win on 11 kills to one attack error to complete the sweep.
Lehigh next takes the court on Tuesday against NJIT (1-3) in Newark, N.J. at 7 p.m. After a season-opening win against St. Francis (NY), NJIT dropped matches to Rutgers, Princeton and Fairfield each in four sets. The Highlanders are led by freshman Camilla Tinari’s 46 kills and 3.07 kills per set.
"Being able to come out of the weekend with a couple wins even though we still have a lot of work to do is encouraging," said Bertucci. "It’s really exciting and the girls are going to keep working hard and getting better."