Posted: 09/20/2012 | Last updated: September 21, 2012 at 08:10 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a thrilling five-set victory over Princeton on Tuesday night, the Lehigh volleyball team will begin Patriot League play when it welcomes Colgate and Bucknell into Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall this weekend. The battle-tested Mountain Hawks will start with a Friday night match against Colgate before a Saturday showdown with the Bison of Bucknell.
The Mountain Hawks are coming off a 10-4 Patriot League record in 2011 which was good enough for a third place finish in the regular season before falling to second-seeded Army, 3-0, in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at Bender Arena in Washington, D.C.
Lehigh is 13-32 all-time against the Raiders of Colgate after splitting the season series last year. After a 3-0 defeat in Hamilton, N.Y., the Mountain Hawks rebounded and won a five-set match in Bethlehem in the midst of a four-game winning streak. The win last season snapped the Raiders’ 14-match winning streak over Lehigh and was the Mountain Hawks’ first victory over Colgate since 2004. Of the last five matches the two teams have played since 2009, three have gone to the fifth set, setting up what could be an epic battle to begin league play this Friday night.
On Saturday, the Bucknell Bison will travel to Bethlehem to take on the Mountain Hawks in both teams’ second Patriot League match-up. The Bison will begin league play on Friday night when they travel to Easton to take on Lafayette. Last year, the Mountain Hawks completed the season sweep with two 3-0 wins against Bucknell, including one in Lewisburg to begin a five-game winning streak. The Mountain Hawks hold a 38-26 all-time advantage over the Bison, but over the last 20 matches, Bucknell has taken 16 from Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks’ 3-1 win in 2009 snapped Bucknell’s 14-game winning streak over Lehigh and was their first since 2002.
In their last game, the Mountain Hawks took Princeton to five sets before knocking off the Tigers, 16-14, in the decisive set for the win. Filling in for an injured Jade Van Streepen, junior Lizzy Silverstein collected a season-high 12 kills on the night, including one to give Lehigh a 15-14 advantage in the fifth set en route to the win. It was Lehigh’s second road win of the season and capped-off a four-game road trip for the Mountain Hawks.
On the season, senior Taylor Poole continues to lead the Mountain Hawk attack with 67 kills, followed by juniors Courtney McCutchan with 63 and Amanda Clark with 62. Freshman Ana Vrhel has posted an impressive .317 hitting percentage, while Poole has recorded a team-high 11 aces. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles leads the team with 144 digs, while the combination of Poole and Vrhel has blocked 41 shots. Junior Dana Raber and freshman Amy Matula have been the setting specialists, registering 189 and 140 assists, respectively.
The Colgate offense is led by junior Lindsay Young’s 133 kills, averaging 2.38 kills per set. She is followed by sophomore Diane Seely, who has averaged 2.24 kps with her 92 kills on the year. Junior Kaylee Fifer is the setting specialist, averaging a team-best 6.12 assists per set, while junior Caitlin Cremlin has served up 15 aces for the Raiders. On defense, Cremlin averages 3.48 digs per set, while sophomores Liz Karnes and Seely have combined for 61 total blocks.
Junior Jessica Serrato leads the Bucknell attack with 120 kills and a 2.55 kps average. Senior Kat Tauscher and freshman Meghan Wentzel are the team’s assist specialists, as the setters are averaging 4.93 and 4.43 aps, respectively. Tauscher, Wentzel and junior Kellye Zobrist have been the leaders of the serving game, recording 34 aces amongst the trio. Junior Morgan Mientus has been the heart of the Bison defense, collecting 205 digs on the season, while senior Kebah Edoho has posted a team-leading 47 blocks, followed by freshman Karen Campbell with 43.
After Saturday’s match, the Mountain Hawks will be idle for five days before they continue Patriot League play in Annapolis Md. with a match against the Navy Midshipmen to begin an eight-game road trip that includes seven Patriot League matches.