WORCESTER, Mass. – In its seventh Patriot League match of the season, the Lehigh volleyball team toppled Holy Cross on Saturday afternoon in straight sets to improve to 4-3 in league play. The Mountain Hawks defeated the Crusaders for the ninth-straight match between the two teams, and the sweep was the fifth-consecutive straight set victory over Holy Cross. Lehigh earned a split of the weekend’s games after suffering a loss last night at the hands of the Black Knights of Army.
"I think they bounced back really well," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "I think we picked up our game in a number of different areas and I was happy to see that."
The first set started with the Mountain Hawks racing out to an 8-3 lead that included two kills from sophomore Jade Van Streepen. From there, Lehigh was able to maintain its five point lead over the Crusaders as the score hit 18-13, but Holy Cross put together three-straight points to cut Lehigh’s lead to two points at 18-16, forcing a Mountain Hawk timeout. Out of the break, the Crusaders picked up the next point, but Lehigh rattled off the next three points to open up a four-point lead at 21-17. From there, the Mountain Hawks finished on a 4-1 run to take the set, 25-18, and a 1-0 match advantage.
Set two began with Lehigh taking an 8-3 lead to put themselves in the driver’s seat yet again. Lehigh then took an 18-11 lead by scoring 10 of the next 18 points. The 11th point by the Crusaders would be the last Holy Cross would score in the set after the Mountain Hawks produced a stretch of seven-consecutive scores that included a kill and a service ace by Van Streepen for a 25-11 second set win.
With a 2-0 lead in the match, Lehigh and Holy Cross traded points until the score came to an 8-8 stalemate in set three. Lehigh proceeded to score the next three points, capped by a kill from junior outside hitter Amanda Clark. With the score at 11-8, Lehigh went on a 10-5 run that included two kills by Clark and two by senior Taylor Poole as the lead stretched to 21-13. The Mountain Hawks closed out the set and the match on a 4-2 run, as Poole recorded the final kill to help Lehigh improve to 4-3 in Patriot League play with a 25-15 victory.
"I think we had a bit more confidence than we did in the Army match," said Bertucci. "When we play with more confidence we’re a pretty good team. We need to keep that confidence and composure throughout all of our matches."
Clark and Poole each reached double-digits in kills with 12 and 11, respectively. Both also registered a hitting percentage of over .400 as Poole hit an impressive .474, while Clark hit an equally impressive .409 throughout the match. Van Streepen completed the match with six kills, two aces and a .667 hitting percentage, while finishing with no errors on the day. As a team, the Mountain Hawks hit .291 over the three sets. Junior libero Rachel Charles recorded 13 digs to lead the defensive effort, while freshman Ana Vrhel collected five block-assists and one solo block to aid the Mountain Hawk defense.
"I think we were much better offensively this afternoon after making some corrections from last night’s match," said Bertucci, "We just got better as the match went on. With their backs against the wall, Holy Cross was playing really tough, but we were able to kick it into another gear and match what they were doing."
The win was Lehigh’s ninth-straight over the Holy Cross and the fifth straight sweep as the Mountain Hawks improved to 31-11 all-time against the Crusaders.
Lehigh will now travel to Lewisburg, Pa. to take on the Bison of Bucknell in its third-consecutive Patriot League match-up and the seventh game of an eight-game road trip for the Mountain Hawks. The match will take place on Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m. inside Davis Gym.
"Bucknell is a much improved team and that’s going to be a key game for us," said Bertucci.