BETHLEHEM, Pa. – On the heels of a straight-set victory at Holy Cross, the Lehigh volleyball team will conclude an eight-game road trip with a pair of Patriot League tilts this weekend beginning with Bucknell on Friday night, followed by a Saturday showdown with Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y. This weekend will begin the Mountain Hawks’ second half stretch as they are half way through their Patriot League schedule with seven league games remaining before the Tournament field will be set for postseason play.
The Mountain Hawks split a pair of Patriot League battles last weekend when they rebounded from a 3-0 loss to Army on Friday night with a straight-set sweep of Holy Cross on Saturday. The squad now sits at 4-3 in the Patriot League and is tied with Navy and American for third place in the league standings.
Against Army, the Mountain Hawks fell despite a strong effort in all three sets. The Black Knights held on for a 26-24 win in the first set before edging Lehigh 25-21 in the second. A 25-19 win in set three sealed the win for Army. Junior libero Rachel Charles led the Lehigh defense with 15 digs, providing leadership and organization to the Mountain Hawk protection. On offense, junior outside hitter Amanda Clark knocked down a team-high nine kills, while senior Taylor Poole recorded four kills, committing just one error throughout the match.
The next night, the Mountain Hawks put together a sweep of their own as they dropped Holy Cross in straight-sets for their fourth Patriot League victory. After a 25-18 first set win, Lehigh cruised to a 25-11 second set victory before finishing off the Crusaders, 25-15, in the third set. Both Clark and Poole hit over .400 in the match as Clark finished with 12 kills and a .409 hitting percentage, while Poole hit .474 on her 11 kills. Sophomore Jade Van Streepen hit .667 with six kills as she did not commit an error on the night, while Charles continued to lead a strong defensive effort with 13 digs.
After her weekend performance, Poole is now just two kills away from moving into the top 15 in program history as she has registered 760 total kills throughout her illustrious career. On the season, she has collected a team-leading 55 total blocks, which moves her into sole possession of 13th place in program history with 245 career blocks. Also moving up the record board is Rachel Charles, as her 287 digs this season have given her 1,086 for her career, moving her into 10th place all-time in Lehigh volleyball history, passing Kelly Kramer (1991-94).
On the season, Clark leads the Mountain Hawk attack, averaging 2.58 kills per set, followed by Poole who is averaging 2.17. Junior Dana Raber has been the setting specialist, averaging 5.79 assists per set with 365 throughout the year, followed by freshman Amy Matula who is averaging 4.61 per set. Poole and junior Courtney McCutchan lead the serving game, each with 19 aces thus far. On defense, freshman Ana Vrhel is second in total blocks with 44, averaging 0.75 per set. Along with Charles, three other Mountain Hawks are in triple digits with digs, as McCutchan (151), Raber (113) and Matula (101) have all made solid contributions to the Lehigh point protection.
Bucknell will enter Saturday’s action riding a seven-game losing streak as the Bison have not won a match since a 3-0 sweep over Quinnipiac in the Bison Invitational on September 15. Bucknell will also begin play on Saturday 0-7 in Patriot League action following a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Navy Midshipmen on October 13.
The Mountain Hawks are 39-26 all-time against the Bison, riding a four-game winning streak over Bucknell that includes a four-set victory earlier in the season when they hosted the Bison at Leeman-Turner Arena. Lehigh has not lost to Bucknell since October of 2010.
Junior Jessica Serrato and freshman Claire Healy lead the Bison attack, averaging 2.35 and 2.26 kills per set, respectively, while senior Kebah Edoho paces the Bison blocking game with 81 total blocks, averaging 1.03 per set. Senior Kat Tauscher is the set-up player, averaging 5.44 assists per set with 419 on the season, while she also leads the serving side of the Bucknell offense with 19 aces. Junior Morgan Mientus has registered a team-leading 291 digs this season, averaging 3.73 per set to lead the defense. Bucknell also has four other players in triple digit digs as Serrato (124), Healy (166), Tauscher (120) and freshman Katie Price (113) have all played prominent roles in the Bucknell point protection.
After Friday’s match, Lehigh will turn its attention to the Patriot League-leading Colgate Raiders as they have a perfect 7-0 record going into Friday night’s match with the Lafayette Leopards. The Raiders are coming off a 3-1 non-league win against Albany on Wednesday, improving Colgate’s record to 10-11 overall. After splitting the first two sets, Colgate rattled off two close set wins to take the match in four games.
With Wednesday’s action in the books, junior Lindsay Young continues to lead the Raiders’ attack with 213 kills, averaging 2.80 kps. She is followed by sophomore Diane Seely (2.48 kps) and senior Michelle McCarthy (2.34 kps) as the major point-scorers for the Colgate offense. Junior setter Kaylee Fifer sets up the Raiders’ attack, averaging 6.51 aps, followed by freshman Jackie Macy who is averaging 5.29 aps. On defense, junior Caitlin Cremlin is the leader of the protection, averaging a team-leading 3.95 digs per set, while three other Raiders are in triple digit digs as Fifer (174), junior Allie Dyer (152) and junior Lexi Finger (134) have all made major contributions to the Colgate defensive effort. Seely leads the blocking game with 57 total blocks, averaging 0.97 per set, while she is followed closely by sophomore Liz Karnes (50) who is averaging 0.92 per set.
Colgate leads the all-time series with a 33-13 mark against the Mountain Hawks after a 3-0 sweep of Lehigh inside Grace Hall earlier this season. Lehigh hopes to learn from Colgate’s style of play and rebound with a key Patriot League win.
After this weekend’s action, Lehigh will return home for the first time since the 3-1 victory over Bucknell on September 22. On Tuesday night, the Mountain Hawks will welcome Delaware State into Leeman-Turner Arena for their non-league finale before finishing off the season with five-consecutive home matches against Patriot League foes. Game time for Tuesday’s tilt is set for 7 p.m.