Posted: 11/16/2012 | Last updated: November 16, 2012 at 01:43 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – For the 17th time in program history, the Lehigh volleyball team will compete in the Patriot League Tournament in search of its third Patriot League crown. After a 3-1 victory over Holy Cross last Friday to clinch a tournament bid, the Mountain Hawks will now face the top-seeded Colgate Raiders on their home court on Saturday, November 17 at 3 p.m. It will be Lehigh’s second trip to Hamilton, N.Y. this season, the other a 3-1 win over the Raiders.
After finishing the regular season 12-13 overall and an 8-6 record in Patriot League play, the Mountain Hawks will make their second trip to the postseason under head coach Bob Bertucci this weekend. Last season, Lehigh was eliminated in the semifinals after a 3-0 loss at the hands of second-seeded Army.
The Raiders hold a 33-14 all-time advantage over the Mountain Hawks, which includes the season series split of 2012. In Lehigh’s first Patriot League game this season, the Raiders were able to knock off the Mountain Hawks in straight sets at Leeman-Turner Arena, but Lehigh was able to obtain redemption later in the season.
In their second match of the year, the Mountain Hawks and Raiders squared off in Hamilton, N.Y. as the then-undefeated Colgate team was looking to extend its winning streak over Patriot League opponents this season to nine. The Mountain Hawks would not let that happen, as they marched onto Wesley M. Cotterell Court and walked away with a 3-1 victory. In that match, junior Amanda Clark knocked down a game-high 20 kills en route to the four-set win, while junior libero Rachel Charles dug a season-high 32 attacks on the night as the major component of the Mountain Hawk point protection.
Senior Taylor Poole leads the team with 210 kills on the year and was recently named a first team All-Patriot League performer. Clark is second on the team with 203 kills and has been selected to the Academic All-Patriot League team for her success on the court and in the classroom for the second-straight year. The two are complimented by the exceptional play from junior Dana Raber and freshman Amy Matula, as the duo has combined for 90 percent of the Lehigh assists this season with 555 and 424, respectively.
On defense, Charles leads the team with a 4.97 digs per set average and has been named a second team All-Patriot League performer while also garnering Libero of the Year honors for the second-consecutive season. Poole has not only been a force on offense, but also at the net as the Keller, Texas native is averaging a team-best 0.89 blocks per set as she has racked up 82 on the season.
The Raiders will enter Saturday’s match winners of four of their last five Patriot League tilts with a 3-1 loss to American mixed in on November 9. Colgate is led by senior Lindsay Young’s team-best 293 kills and 2.87 kills per set average on the season. Two other Raiders are in the 200+ kills club as senior Michelle McCarthy has knocked down 245 kills, while sophomore Diane Seely has added 231 of her own. The setting specialist is Kaylee Fifer as the junior has registered 737 assists this season to set-up the Raider attack.
On defense, junior Caitlin Cremin leads the point protection with 420 digs on the year, while Seely has recorded 83 total blocks at the net. An interesting aspect of this match-up will be the service game, as Cremin leads all Patriot League performers with 41 aces on the season. She is followed by Charles and junior Courtney McCutchan as each has registered 28 to lead the Lehigh serving game.
This will mark the second time in history the two teams will meet in the Patriot League Tournament. The first encounter in the postseason was a 1996 battle that ended in a 3-0 Raider victory. If Lehigh leaves the court victorious on Saturday, they will take on the winner of second-seeded American and third-seeded Army at 3p.m. on Sunday.