BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After beginning Patriot League play at home last weekend, the Lehigh volleyball team will hit the road this weekend for a pair of league matches. The Mountain Hawks (9-6, 1-1 PL) will face Colgate (4-10, 1-1 PL) Friday at 7 p.m. and then travel to take on Bucknell (3-8, 0-2 PL) Saturday at 4 p.m. After a tough loss to Army last weekend, Lehigh rebounded the following day with a straight-set victory over Holy Cross and it will look to use that momentum headed into this weekend.
“It was nice to be able to bounce back after a loss,” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “We got off to a slow start, but we hit our stride once the match developed.”
The Mountain Hawks are led by senior Angelika Kopacz and sophomore Paige Kruse who have 160 and 133 kills, respectively. Through two league matches, Kopacz is ranked fourth in the Patriot League with 3.71 kills per set as the Mountain Hawks rank second in the league with 14.43 kills per set. Senior Jessica Kudirka has been in the middle of all of the action as she ranks second in the league with 11.86 assists per set.
Lehigh has not only been finding success with the kill, but the serve as well. The Mountain Hawks rank No. 6 in the nation in service aces (1.98) and are led by sophomore Rachel Charles who is No. 8 in the nation with 0.55 service aces per set. Lehigh struggled last weekend with its serve, something Bertucci knows his team has to do well in order to be successful.
“I think serving is a key for us, it’s one of the things we do really well,” said Bertucci. “We aren’t a big, overpowering, physical team. We are more of a technical team so we need to be able to attack well with the serve and score points with the serve.”
Lehigh will firs take on a Colgate team that also split its pair of opening league matches, defeating Navy in four sets before dropping to American in four sets. The Raiders are led by Lindsay Young who leads the team with 174 kills and through two Patriot League matches, ranks third above Kopacz with 3.75 killers per set. Colgate was picked to finish third in the 2011 Patriot League Preseason Poll voted by head coaches and sports information directors in the league.
Friday will mark the 44th meeting between the two schools as Colgate holds a 12-31 advantage since they first met in 1980. Last season, Lehigh fell in both matches against Colgate dropping a tough five-set match at home before losing in straight sets on the road.
The following day, Lehigh will take on a Bucknell team that will be looking for its first Patriot League victory. The Bison dropped a pair of matches in their opening league weekend, falling to American in straight sets before losing to Navy in five sets. Bucknell will host Lafayette Friday night prior to taking on the Mountain Hawks the following day.
Bucknell is led by Jessica Serrato who leads the team with 124 kills and Anne Ellenberger who through two league matches ranks second in blocks with 1.50 per set. Bucknell was picked to finish fourth in the 2011 Patriot League Preseason Poll voted by head coaches and sports information directors in the league.
Saturday will be the 63rd meeting between the schools as Lehigh holds a 37-25 edge since they first meet in 1977. Last season, the two split the season series as Lehigh fell in straight sets at home but won in five sets on the road.
“It will be a challenge going on the road again,” said Bertucci. “We definitely have a tough weekend ahead of us.”