BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After nine straight matches on the road to start the season, the Lehigh volleyball team returned home to the Leeman-Turner Arena. It was a welcomed site as the Mountain Hawks defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-16) on Friday night. Senior Angelika Kopacz and sophomore Paige Kruse led the way with eight kills apiece as Lehigh had a season-high .271 attack percentage.
"Our hitting percentage was a lot better and that came around in practice over the last couple of days," said head coach Bob Bertucci, who gets his first home win at the helm for Lehigh. "We did some offensive work during practice and that showed in our success tonight. A big part of that is also because of our setter getting our hitters one-on-one and delivering them the ball."
Lehigh actually found itself down in the first set 7-10 before the Mountain Hawks’ offense exploded for 11 unanswered points, 10 coming while sophomore Courtney McCutchan was serving. Eight of those 11 straight points came on St. Francis attack errors as Lehigh cruised to a 25-15 first-set victory.
In the second set, the Mountain Hawks wasted no time getting out to a big lead as they lead 5-1 with four of those points again coming on McCutchan serves. Sophomore Amanda Clark had two kills in that stretch as she finished the match with seven kills and a .500 attack percentage. Clark closed the set right where she started it with a kill to give Lehigh the 25-15 second-set win.
Again, Lehigh got off to a quick start as it took a 9-3 lead to begin the third set. For the third set in a row, it was McCutchan leading the way with her serve as four of those first nine points came while she was serving. St. Francis made a run to cut the lead to three, but that would be as close as it would get as the Mountain Hawks’ offense took over to win the set 25-16 and complete the straight-set victory.
"Courtney came out with her serve and went after their libero and got her rattled," said Bertucci. "And to Courtney’s credit, she kept the pressure on and that’s so key because you don’t want to let them off the hook."
Lehigh’s pressure forced St. Francis to commit 25 attack errors for an attack percentage of -0.42.
"We watched St. Francis on tape and we saw some real big kids in the middle so we were pretty concerned coming into the match, but to our player’s credit, they went after them hard," said Bertucci. "We put pressure on them with the serve and took St. Francis out of their offense and that made a huge difference."
St. Francis was led by Leeanne Haus who had a match-high nine kills.
Lehigh returns to its home court on Saturday for a pair of matches. The Mountain Hawks take on Ivy League-foe Princeton at 10 a.m. then they take on La Salle at 3 p.m.
Bertucci is hoping that the win will give his team some much needed confidence going into the two matches.
"Tonight was an important win for us coming off a few losses in a row," said Bertucci, whose team had lost three in a row and four of its last five matches. "To bounce back and get a win and get it in the fashion that we did was huge. We looked a lot more comfortable and that’s usually the case when playing at home."