BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A straight-set sweep was how the Lehigh volleyball team started its six-game homestand on Tuesday night, after knocking off the Delaware State Hornets, 3-0. Junior Amanda Clark led all scorers with a game-high 14 kills, as the Irvine, Calif. native hit an impressive .458 on the night. Lehigh will continue its homestand when it welcomes rival Lafayette on Friday for a critical Patriot League tilt that could include playoff implications.
"Our hitting percentage was one of the best performances we’ve had this season," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "Our offense is starting to click and we’re getting a little bit of confidence in what we’re trying to do and I think that’s going to help us going into Friday night’s league match against Lafayette."
Set one began a battle for both teams as Lehigh and Delaware State traded points until the score reached nine apiece. The Mountain Hawks then opened up a 7-1 run, capped off by a kill from senior Taylor Poole to make the score 16-10. From there, Lehigh held the Hornets to just six points the rest of the set as the Mountain Hawks finished the game on a 9-6 advantage after freshman Ana Vrhel knocked down a kill for the 25-16 win.
Lehigh sprinted to a 5-1 lead to start the second set, but Delaware State was able to control the damage and keep the score at a four-point deficit as the game reached 9-5 in favor of Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks then proceeded to take a 17-11 lead, courtesy of an ace by freshman Amy Matula, prompting a timeout by the Hornets. Out of the break, Delaware State took the next two points, but Lehigh returned to the offensive and scored two straight of its own points to extend the lead back to six after another kill by Vrhel. The Hornets would not go away, as they battled back to get the game within three points at 21-18 after an attack error by the Mountain Hawks, but Lehigh closed out the set 25-21 following a kill by freshman Claire Bradshaw.
The Mountain Hawks again raced out of the gates in set three to open up an early 10-3 lead following a kill by Clark. With their backs against the wall, the Hornets battled back to get the set within three points at 21-18 after an attack error by Lehigh, but the Mountain Hawks found their stride again and proceeded to finish the match at 25-21, courtesy of a kill by junior Lizzy Silverstein.
Lehigh finished the match hitting .346 as a team, while following Clark, Poole recorded eight kills of her own on the night and hit .333 for the match. Sophomores Jade Van Streepen and Kaylynn Genemaras each collected seven kills, as Vrhel followed them with six more. Van Streepen hit an equally impressive .600 for the match, as the Austin, Texas native made just one error on the night. On defense, junior Courtney McCutchan led the way with a team-high 10 digs, while Poole and Matula added six more apiece.
"I thought Courtney McCutchan played very well throughout the whole match," said Bertucci. "She was working hard and very stable in her passing and added a lot of ball control to the team, while Taylor Poole started out of the gates killing everything.
"These next few matches are critical matches for us so I hope everyone comes out because the crowd support really energizes our team," Bertucci continued. "There’s going to be a lot of emotion going into Friday’s match and I think that plays a big part in how you handle the pressure of the game."
The Mountain Hawks will now set their sights on the five remaining Patriot League contests left on the schedule. All five of the games will be inside Grace Hall at Leeman Turner Arena, beginning with Lafayette this Friday night for a match slated to begin at 7 p.m.