EASTON, Pa. – Lehigh (16-8, 7-3 PL) defeated rival Lafayette (8-15, 1-9 PL) in three sets Friday night. It was the Mountain Hawks’ second win of the season against the Leopards. In the first match earlier in the year, Lehigh was up 2-0 before eventually winning in five sets. On Friday night, Lehigh again was up two sets but this time finished Lafayette off in the third set. Taylor Poole led the way with 10 kills for Lehigh which has now won seven of its last eight matches.
“Taylor is coming on strong and that’s real important for our team success,” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “Our attitude and our desire and determination are really great. This team really wants to be successful and is really working on it and we are bringing a little more confidence into each match.”
In the first set, Lehigh used a 7-1 run in the middle of the set to turn a 10-8 lead into a 17-9 lead. But Lafayette then went on a run of its own to cut the lead to 21-20. With Lehigh clinging on late at 22-21, the Mountain Hawks never gave up the lead as they scored three straight points to win the set 25-21.
Paige Kruse had four kills in the set while Amanda Clark, Courtney McCutchan and Poole added three kills apiece. Lehigh had 14 kills and seven errors for a .250 attack percentage while Lafayette had eight kills and eight errors for a .000 percentage.
Lehigh dropped the first point in the second set and then scored seven straight points to get out to a quick 7-1 start. As in the middle of the first set, Lafayette came back with a run of its own as it scored five straight points and cut the lead to 9-7. The two teams traded points until the Mountain Hawks extended its lead to 18-12 using a 5-1 run that included a pair of kills from Kruse and one from McCutchan as Lehigh went on to win the set 25-20 to take a 2-0 lead.
Lehigh had an incredible 18 kills in the set and combined with eight errors, had an attack percentage of .270. For the second set in a row, Lafayette had the same number of kills and errors for a .000 attack percentage.
In the third set, the two schools traded points until at 12-12 when Lehigh scored eight unanswered points for a 20-12 lead. Lafayette cut the lead to 21-18 with a run of its own but Lehigh managed to hang on to win the set 25-19 and the match in straight sets. It was the Mountain Hawks’ 11th straight set victory of the season.
Alongside Poole, who finished with a .562 attack percentage, Jade Van Streepen added nine kills while McCutchan finished with eight and Kruse and Clark had seven apiece.
The match was the 76th meeting between Lehigh-Lafayette since 1974 as the Mountain Hawks now old a 47-29 edge, including a 29-17 advantage since meeting as Patriot League opponents.
Lehigh will return to the court for its final home stand of the weekend when it hosts Bucknell on Friday, November 4th at 7 p.m. and Colgate the following day at 4 p.m. The Mountain Hawks beat Bucknell earlier in the season but fell to Colgate. Lehigh could possibly clinch a Patriot League Championship berth during that weekend.
“We will have to clean up our game a bit for this weekend,” said Bertucci. “We can’t give away free points to be successful and that starts with the serve.”