Posted: October 11, 2006
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Following a slow start on Wednesday night, the Mountain Hawks came roaring back and ultimately forced a game five against the Villanova Wildcats at the Leeman-Turner Arena in their final home match until November 10. However, Lehigh, 0-19, could not clinch the final game as the Wildcats won 3-2. Game scores were 30-14, 29-31, 30-28, 27-30 and 16-14.
“It was an absolutely amazing match,” said head coach Amanda Moran. “Tonight really shows the potential that our team has. Everyone contributed throughout the match and did what I asked them to do. We moved the ball well and played great defense.”
The Wildcats had total control over the first game, hitting .571 with Kelly Ludwig and Adrian Semrau notching perfect hitting percentages. The second game would prove to be a different story as the Mountain Hawks never trailed Villanova by more than three points. With the Wildcats up 29-27, freshman Suzee Ritcher had a kill that started a four-point rally by the Mountain Hawks. After Villanova committed two attack errors, a kill by freshman Lindsay Brown put the game away, evening the match at 1-1 and starting what would be a closely contested match.
After Lehigh jumped on an early lead in the third game, the Wildcats came back to make it another close game and took the lead for the final time in the game off a service error. The Wildcats added a little cushion to their lead when they earned four points late in the game, but Lehigh would rally back to draw within one point 28-29. However, Villanova put the game away on the next point on a Dana Tartasky kill.
The Mountain Hawks built a comfortable lead in the fourth game before Villanova started its rally that reduced an eight point deficit to two. However, a service error by Jenna Link gave Lehigh the fourth game and forced the all decisive fifth game.
Once again, the two teams battled tough, not allowing either team to build a lead greater than three points. Lehigh looked like it was going to put the match away, but a kill by Alona Cherkez, one of her match-high 21, and two Lehigh attack errors allowed Villanova to take the final game 16-14.
“To go up against a Big East team in five games and lose by two points, is a statement,” said Moran. “We played with at least four freshmen on the court at times. Every time I took someone out and replaced them, we did well and did not let down.”
Four Mountain Hawks recorded double-digit kill totals. Senior Michelle Schwendenmann led the team with 17, while freshman Brittany Thurston made 13. Junior Shannon Spafford and Ritcher each chipped in with 11. Sarah Wolfe put up 48 assists and was second on the team with 13 digs. Senior Cassidy Maumus came up with a match-high 22 digs.
In addition to leading the team in kills, Cherkez also led the team with 17 digs. Chelsea Graman and Jenna Link paced the Wildcat offense, recording 32 and 29 assists, respectively. Along with Cherkez, Elysse Studzinski put up top kill numbers as she recorded 19 kills—second highest of the match.
Lehigh will go on the road for its next eight matches, completing its entire road portion of the Patriot League schedule while playing one final out-of-league match. The road trip starts on Friday night when the Mountain Hawks travel to Holy Cross. Match time is scheduled for 7:00 pm.