BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Despite a great effort by sophomore Kaylynn Genemaras, the Lehigh volleyball team dropped its regular season finale to the Army Black Knights, 3-1, on Saturday night. The Mountain Hawks played a tight match throughout, losing the first and third sets by a total of five points, but Army was able to finish off their sets for the victory.
"It’s disappointing to lose tonight," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "We put a lot of energy into the match and I think the girls played pretty well, but we just didn’t seize every opportunity on the evening. We were unable to put some sets away and we let that carry over early into other sets and that became the difference in the outcome."
The match began with the Mountain Hawks falling behind 10-5 early on, forcing Bertucci to burn a timeout. Out of the break, Lehigh was able to cut the Black Knights’ lead to three at 12-9, but Army was able to rebound and extend its advantage to as large as six when the game reached 20-14. Lehigh used a 7-2 run to pull within one point at 22-21 after a kill by Turner. From there, Army was able to score three of the final four points for the 25-22 victory to gain a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set started with the game on a see-saw as the teams traded leads and tied six times as the set reached 10-10 after a kill by junior Courtney McCutchan. Army proceeded to take the next three points for a 13-10 advantage which forced a Lehigh timeout. After the meeting, the Mountain Hawks rattled off four-consecutive points to take a 14-13 lead in the set after two kills by sophomore Jade Van Streepen and another by senior Taylor Poole. The Black Knights needed to burn a timeout after the four Lehigh points and after the break, the two teams played to a draw five more times as the game reached 21-21, courtesy of a block by freshman Ana Vrhel. Lehigh ended the match on a 4-2 run, capped by a block by sophomore Kaylynn Genemaras for the 25-23 victory to knot the match at one game apiece.
Army took the first three points of the third set, but Lehigh roared back to take an 8-4 advantage, courtesy of a kill by Genemaras which forced a timeout by the Black Knights. Army responded by battling back to knot the game at 10 and from there, neither team was able to take a significant lead as they tied seven more times until the score reached 20-20. The Black Knights scored the next two points, forcing Lehigh to call a timeout. Out of the break, Lehigh scored the next three points to take a 23-22 advantage, but Army finished the set on a 3-0 run to take the 25-23 win.
The Black Knights scored the first five points of the third set, but Lehigh was able to battle back once again and cut Army’s lead to three after two Rachel Charles aces. Unfortunately, the Black Knights were yet again able to pull away, opening up a 16-11 lead, forcing Bertucci to burn his second timeout of the set after using one very early in the set. The Mountain Hawks were unable to cut into the lead as the Black Knights maintained at least a five-point advantage for the remainder of the match, ending the set and the match with a 25-18 victory.
"Tonight was a much-improved Lehigh team from the last time we played Army and we were playing a couple of players down," said Bertucci. "I thought in game four, Army made an adjustment and exploited our left-side block and we just didn’t make the adjustments quick enough."
Genemaras knocked down a team-best 11 kills on the night, followed by Turner with 10 of her own. Senior Taylor Poole registered nine kills to take the team lead in that category on the season (210). Junior Dana Raber recorded a team-high 25 assists, while freshman Amy Matula added 15 to the Lehigh setting game. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles collected 21 digs, while also leading the team with three aces throughout the match. Three other Mountain Hawks were in double-digit digs, while Vrhel posted seven blocks as a part of the Lehigh net protection.
Before tonight’s match, Taylor Poole was honored for her play and dedication to the Lehigh volleyball program with a ceremony celebrating her final regular season home match. The senior is currently playing in her final season in the brown and white.
"She has had a very impressive two years that I have seen her play," said Bertucci. "Before I took the job, I was told that she was the real deal and I think she has performed very well for us day-in and day-out. Everybody is double-teaming her and she still continues to excel and I think she is going to help us all the way through our postseason run."
The Mountain Hawks will now idle until Saturday, November 17 when they travel to Hamilton, N.Y. to take on the top-seeded Colgate Raiders in the Patriot League Tournament slated to begin at 3 p.m.