Lehigh set to host rival Lafayette Friday
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team will host historic rival Lafayette Friday at 7 p.m. at the Leeman-Turner Arena. After a loss to Colgate last Friday, the Mountain Hawks (10-7, 2-2 PL) rebounded with a straight-set win against Bucknell on Saturday and are hoping they can ride that momentum into Friday’s match against the Leopards (7-9, 0-4 PL). One of the keys to the match for Lehigh will be curbing its emotions during the course of what is sure to be an intense match.
Volleyball vs Lafayette Preview
“That will be the challenge for us because we’ve had matches this season where the girls got so emotional that it prevented them from performing like they are capable of,” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “We have an advantage in the stats over Lafeyatte but it won’t be any advantage if we can’t control our emotions and play our own game.”
The match will be Lehigh’s 75th meeting with Lafayette since 1974 as the Mountain Hawks hold the edge 45-29, including a 27-14 advantage since meeting as Patriot League opponents.
Lehigh was led by junior Taylor Poole and sophomore Amanda Clark in the team’s most recent victory against the Bison as each had nine kills apiece. Senior Angelika Kopacz, who leads the team with 170 kills, added eight kills as the trio accounted for 26 of the Mountain Hawks’ 41 kills. Poole was nine-for-11 with no errors for a stellar .818 attack percentage.
Lafayette has struggled thus far this season as it has yet to win a set through four league games. The Leopards are led by junior Kaitlynn Zoller who has 124 kills (2.34 kills per set). Zoller also leads the team in service aces as she has five in 12 Patriot League sets for a 0.42 average, which ranks her fifth in the league tied with Lehigh senior Jessica Kudirka.
Both teams are nationally ranked in service aces per set as Lehigh is No. 6 with 1.90 per set while Lafayette sits just a few spots back at No. 9 with 1.82 per set. Sophomore Rachel Charles is No. 15 in the nation with 0.49 aces per set while Danielle Towslee is No. 50 with 0.42 per set.
Lehigh has struggled with its serve during league play, something Bertucci knows the team has to turn around in order to be successful in Friday’s match.
“I thought we were very good with our serve in non-league play, but it hasn’t been as effective since we’ve started Patriot League play,” said Bertucci. “I think serving and passing will play a very big role in this match. We are going to have to really focus on our passing because Lafayette definitely has the ability to put pressure on you with their serve.”
The match will be broadcast live on Lehighsports.com.