BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team cruised to a straight-set victory (25-22, 25-12, 25-13) over Navy Friday night at Leeman-Turner Arena. The Mountain Hawks (12-7, 4-2 PL) were led by junior Taylor Poole’s nine kills and .500 attack percentage while five other Lehigh players added at least five kills. Defensively, Lehigh held Navy (6-15, 1-5 PL) to a .074 attack percentage.
“I thought the team’s effort was real good and our execution was even better,” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “They made some switches to match up against Taylor but she was still effective. We kind of figured out what we needed to do and started to feel confident and then it was just a matter of working hard and we did that.”
The first set was tightly contested the whole way. Lehigh found itself down 18-16 before rallying with six straight points to take a 22-18 lead as a pair of kills by freshman Jade Van Streepen sparked the comeback. The Midshipmen then went on a small 4-1 run of their own cutting the lead to 23-22 before a Jessica Kudirka kill and a Navy attack error gave the set to Lehigh.
The Mountain Hawks kept the momentum going in the second set as they jumped out to a 10-4 lead. The closest Navy got was five points before Lehigh opened up its lead thanks to seven straight points with five of those coming off Midshipmen errors. Lehigh won the set 25-12 as the Mountain Hawks had 11 kills and four errors while Navy had seven kills and seven errors.
Lehigh then found itself in a similar position as it did a week ago when it hosted Lafayette. The Mountain Hawks had a 2-0 lead in that match before struggling and dropping the next two sets as eventually Lehigh won in five. This time, however, instead of bringing his team into the locker room during the 10-minute break between the second and third set, Bertucci kept his club on the court warming up and hitting balls.
“We didn’t talk to them; we let the warm up and kept them focused on the game and got right back into again,” said Bertucci. “I think they recognized the reason we didn’t go back to the locker room like last week was because they took a mental break after the first two sets. I think they realized that they needed to stay focused and stay in the game.”
The move paid off as Lehigh continued to fire on all cylinders as the Mountain Hawks led 8-2 early in the third set. Navy cut the lead to four but like the second set, Lehigh pulled away with an 11-1 run en route to a 25-13 third set victory.
The Mountain Hawks got contributions from a plethora of players. Along with Poole’s nine kills, Van Streepen and sophomore Paige Kruse had six kills each while Kudirka, sophomore Amanda Clark and senior Angelika Kopacz had five kills apiece.
“This was one of the best team efforts we’ve had so far this season,” said Bertucci. “We talked about that before the match and it really was just a great team effort.”
Lehigh can’t rest on its laurels however as it hosts American Saturday at 4 p.m. The Eagles come into Leeman-Turner Arena on an eight-game win streak and undefeated (6-0) in league play this season as they sit in first place in the Patriot League. American has had Lehigh’s number in the past as the Eagles hold a 24-2 edge all time.
“We gained a little confidence against Navy and that should help us going into tomorrow, but Lehigh has lost a lot of matches to American historically and I think they have to put that behind them,” said Bertucci. “It’s a new team, a new day and they need to just go out there and get after it. If they play like they did tonight though we have a good chance.”
LIVE stats will be available for the match.