HAMILTON, N.Y. – Despite a terrific effort by senior Taylor Poole who hit .417 in the match, the Lehigh volleyball team fell to Colgate in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament on Saturday in straight sets. The Mountain Hawks held leads in the first and third sets, but were unable to capitalize and continue their efforts enough to come away with victories.
"We’re all disappointed that we didn’t perform as well as we planned on," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "We had our opportunities, but just didn’t capitalize on them. Taylor Poole put in the effort today that you want and expect out of a senior, but the rest didn’t support that effort enough to defeat a team like Colgate."
The first set began with the Mountain Hawks racing out to a 7-3 lead after an ace by Poole, forcing the Raiders to burn an early timeout. Lehigh kept the pressure on Colgate, pushing the set to a 20-16 advantage in favor of the Mountain Hawks after one of Poole’s seven kills on the afternoon, forcing another Raider timeout. Colgate then regrouped and went on an 8-4 run to knot the score at 24, ensuring the match to go to extra points. Lehigh would reach set point twice, but were unable to finish off the game as Colgate climbed back to eventually take the first set by a final score of 28-26.
"Her (Taylor Poole’s) effort has been consistent all season," said Bertucci. "As a senior, that is what you expect and she did that again tonight. If we could have controlled the ball a little better defensively, we could have gotten her the ball more like we wanted and needed to in order to be successful."
Colgate carried its momentum into the second set, as the Raiders jumped out to a 13-6 lead forcing the Mountain Hawks to take a timeout. Lehigh battled back and after an attack error by the Raiders, cut Colgate’s lead to just two at 17-15. From there, the Raiders rattled off three-consecutive points, opening up a 20-15 lead which led to Lehigh’s second timeout. The resilient Mountain Hawks again fought their way back into the set, knocking Colgate’s lead down to just one at 23-22, but were again unable to complete the comeback as the Raiders scored the final two points to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
With their backs against the wall and season on the line, Lehigh needed a strong start to the third set in order to extend the match, but a 3-1 lead was wiped away when Colgate scored five-consecutive early points to take a 6-3 lead in the set. Lehigh wouldn’t quit, keeping the deficit minimal as the set reached 11-9 in favor of Colgate, but the Raiders were again able to stretch their lead as an 11-5 run opened up a 22-14 Raider advantage. Needing three points to move on to the championship match, Colgate scored three of the next four points for the 25-15 set win and a 3-0 match win to advance.
"Our season was a reflection of this match; a lot of missed opportunities," said Bertucci. "Our season has been a roller coaster ride because we could be playing at the top of our game one night and comeback in another match and miss a lot opportunities. We have to get better after 20 points and I think that will happen as we mature as a team."
Poole and sophomores Jade Van Streepen and Kaylynn Genemaras led the Mountain Hawks with seven kills apiece, while junior Courtney McCutchan added four of her own. Junior Dana Raber led the setting game, finishing with 17 assists, three ahead of freshman Amy Matula’s 14. Junior Rachel Charles registered a game-high16 digs throughout the match, showcasing her defensive prowess. Poole also led the net protection, collecting a team-high four blocks to aid Lehigh’s defense.
"Our setters played a good match and move the ball around well, but as a team we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of," said Bertucci. "When you’re in this kind of environment, everything has to be clicking on all cylinders."
Lehigh concludes its season with a 12-14 overall record and an 8-7 record against league-foes that includes the postseason.