BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team is coming off its biggest weekend of the season thus far, defeating Navy and then handing American its first loss of the season in straight sets. The Mountain Hawks currently sit tied for third in the Patriot League standings. After such an important weekend, Lehigh will look to ride the momentum on the road at Holy Cross Friday at 7 p.m. and Army Saturday at 4 p.m.
After beating a much improved Navy team last Friday, Lehigh came back the following day for a historic win over American. It was only the third all-time win in 27 matches against the Eagles and it was also American’s first-ever three-set loss in a regular season match since American joined the Patriot League in 2001.
Taylor Poole was named the Patriot League Volleyball Player of the Week for her efforts as she averaged a stellar .538 attack percentage over the two matches and now has a .375 attack percentage in league matches this year which ranks her fourth in the league.
Poole and the rest of the Mountain Hawks still start of the weekend at Holy Cross Friday night. The first time around earlier in the season, Lehigh defeated Holy Cross in straight sets. In the match, the Mountain Hawks had a trio of players who had at least 10 kills as Paige Kruse led the way with 13 while Amanda Clark and Angelika Koapcz had 12 and 10, respectively.
Holy Cross (6-17, 2-5 PL) is currently tied for fifth place in the league and is fighting for one of those top four league playoff berths. The Crusaders are led by Megan Lynch who ranks first in kills in the league matches with 4.35 kills per set and Kathleen Colpoys who ranks seventh in the league in hitting percentage (.297).
Lehigh holds the all-time lead 29-11 as the Mountain Hawks have won the previous seven matches by a total score of 21-3.
After Friday’s match, Lehigh will travel the following day to take on a tough Army team in a match that could have playoff implications. The Black Knights (15-6, 6-1 PL) are currently tied for first in the league as Army’s lone loss came to American in five sets.
In its Patriot League opener this season, Lehigh fell to Army in four sets. The Mountain Hawks won the first set 27-25 but they were unable to take advantage. Lehigh was led by Kopacz’s sixth double-double of the season (16 kills, 16 digs) while Jessica Kudirka added a double-double of her own (37 assists, 13 digs).
Army ranks first in league matches in opponent hitting percentage (.119), first in blocks (2.50 per set) and first in digs (18 per set). The Black Knights are led by Ariana Mankus who ranks fourth in the league with 3.27 kills per set and leads the league in service aces with 0.58 per set. Army holds the all-time edge against Lehigh 28-12.
Ironically, there wouldn’t be an Army volleyball team without Lehigh head coach Bob Bertucci. His first head coaching job was at Army where he founded the women’s volleyball program in 1978. Bertucci guided the women’s team to an AIAW district championship in his first season and was named the Eastern Collegiate Volleyball League Coach of the Year.
Bertucci also has some history with Army’s head coach Alma Kovaci. She is in her fifth season at the helm after playing and staring on a Temple team that was coached by Bertucci.
There will be LIVE Stats and a LIVE webcast of the Army game.