BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the sixth-consecutive match between the two teams, the Lehigh volleyball team defeated the rival Lafayette Leopards, this time in straight sets, for its third Patriot League victory of the season. The Mountain Hawks powered through a hostile environment as they have now won two-of-three games at the start of their eight-game road trip. Junior Amanda Clark knocked down 11 kills as the Lehigh offense never halted en route to a second-consecutive sweep of the Leopards.
"I think the effort was really good tonight," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "We had nine girls with Four O’clock exams today and they put that behind them, came out and took care of business. That was huge in my opinion."
After the Mountain Hawks took a 3-1 lead in set one courtesy of kills by Clark and sophomore Jade Van Streepen, the Leopards battled back to take a 9-6 advantage, forcing a Lehigh timeout. After the break, the Leopards extended their lead to as high as 12-7 but the Mountain Hawks found their game and closed the gap to 19-18, before tying the game on a kill by sophomore Kaylynn Genemaras.
An attack error gave Lehigh a 20-19 lead, but Lafayette was able to tie the game again after a kill from Katy Rooney. The next three points went to the Mountain Hawks, forcing a Lafayette timeout with the score 23-20 in favor of Lehigh. Out of the break, the Leopards were able to take the next set point, but the Mountain Hawks were able to score the next two, capped by a block by Poole and Clark to give Lehigh a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set two started with the Mountain Hawks racing out to an 8-1 lead, forcing the Leopards to burn a timeout. Out of the break, Lafayette scored two consecutive points, but the Lehigh attack kept their pressure and opened up a 14-6 lead after a kill by Van Streepen. Lehigh continued to roll and extended its lead to as large as 11 at 18-7 off a kill by junior Lizzy Silverstein. The Mountain Hawks withstood a small run by the Leopards to put the match away at 25-14, courtesy of a kill by Clark to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
"Amanda is really helping the offense," said Bertucci. "We switched her to the outside and she’s really been producing for us in a new position and I think she’s doing a great job."
The Mountain Hawks found themselves trailing 6-4 at the start of set three but after a couple of kills by the sophomore southpaw Genemaras, Lehigh battled back to tie the game at seven. Lehigh then proceeded to put together a 3-1 run to gain a 10-8 lead, forcing Lafayette to call a timeout. The Mountain Hawks continued on their torrid pace, scoring four of the next five points for a 14-9 lead. As the Mountain Hawk lead reached as high as 18-10, the Leopards mounted a comeback to pull within three at 20-17, forcing a Lehigh timeout. Out of the break, Lehigh quickly scored three points to take a 23-17 lead. After a Lafayette timeout, the Leopards went on a 3-1 run to pull within four, causing the Mountain Hawks to burn a timeout. The match ended when Lafayette committed an attack error, giving Lehigh a 25-20 set win and a 3-0 sweep of the Leopards.
"I think the key things right now for us is that we compete hard and we keep our composure," said Bertucci. "Coming into an arena that was really loud tonight, I thought we did real well at keeping our focus and I think we handled the atmosphere well."
Clark led the Mountain Hawks’ offense with 11 kills on the night, followed by Poole and Genemaras with six apiece. Junior Courtney McCutchan and freshman Amy Matula both paced the serving game with a game-high three aces each. Setting specialist Dana Raber registered a team-high 18 assists, while Matula collected 15 of her own. On defense, Charles led the way with 26 digs on the night, while Poole picked-up four total blocks.
"I think Rachel Charles was picking up a lot of balls and keeping us in the game throughout every broken play and added control to the game," said Bertucci.
The Mountain Hawks will now travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday for a non-league match against Big East-foe Villanova at 7 p.m. inside the Jake Nevin Field House as Lehigh will be in search of its third consecutive victory.