Lehigh falls in straight sets to American
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Coming off two crucial wins last weekend, Lehigh was unable to ride the momentum as the Mountain Hawks fell in straight sets to American Friday. Lehigh was led by sophomore Paige Kruse’s seven kills while senior Angelika Kopacz added six kills.
In the third set, American never trailed as it got out to an 11-3 lead. The Mountain Hawks were unable to overcome the early deficit as Lehigh dropped the third set 25-13 and the match 3-0.
Along with Kruse and Kopacz, sophomore Rachel Charles had three of Lehigh’s four service aces as she entered the match ranked No. 7 in the nation in aces per set (0.52) while the Mountain Hawks are ranked No. 5 in the category (1.85).
“I think American played really well and just took care of business and we didn’t respond well to that,” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “We made too many errors and gave away too many points.
The Mountain Hawks have already locked up a berth in the Patriot League Tournament and despite the loss, Lehigh is still in sole possession of third place as Colgate – a game behind Lehigh – fell to Army in five sets Friday night.
The first set was close for most of the way. With the set tied 13-13, American went on a 5-1 one to take an 18-14 lead. Lehigh was able to get within three, but the Eagles used a 6-1 run to win the opening match 25-17.
The second set was again close until about the halfway mark. With Lehigh trailing 14-12, American extended its lead with a 4-0 run en route to a 25-18 second-set victory. Lehigh combined for 17 kills and 12 errors in the first two sets while American had 28 kills and six errors.
American was led by Sara Rishell who had 12 kills and a .688 hitting percentage while Juliana Crum added 10 kills and a .625 hitting percentage. The Eagles hit .465 for the match.
Lehigh earned a season split with American for the first time since 2008. The Mountain Hawks handed the Eagles a historic loss earlier this season as Lehigh won in straight sets, handing American its lone loss in league play thus far. The victory was Lehigh’s third all-time win against American in 27 matches as the Mountain Hawks gave the Eagles its first-ever three-set loss in a regular season match since it joined the Patriot League in 2001.
Lehigh will look to rebound in the regular season finale against Navy Saturday at 4 p.m. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Midshipmen earlier in the season in straight sets.
Should Lehigh win, the Mountain Hawks will be the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and most likely face second-seeded Army in Washington, D.C. The semifinals of the Tournament are Saturday, November 19th.