Posted: 10/22/2012 | Last updated: October 22, 2012 at 02:11 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After handing the Colgate Raiders their first Patriot League loss of 2012, the Lehigh volleyball team will take to the court on Tuesday night for its non-league finale against Delaware State at Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall. Tuesday’s action will kick off a six-game homestand for the Mountain Hawks to finish their regular season which includes five Patriot League tilts.
Lehigh sits at 5-4 in the Patriot League, tied with Navy for the fourth and final Patriot League Tournament spot. With one more match against the Mids looming in the near future, this last homestand will be crucial in determining the field of the 2012 postseason.
Before the Mountain Hawks get to the Patriot League matches, they will need to face-off against the Hornets on Tuesday night. Lehigh holds a 4-1 advantage against Delaware State all-time, as the Mountain Hawks have won two-straight over the Hornets including a 3-1 win last season.
In their last match, the Mountain Hawks knocked off Colgate, 3-1, in Hamilton, N.Y. to give the Raiders their first Patriot League loss of the season. Lehigh rebounded from a 3-2 loss to Bucknell the night before in what was an extremely hostile environment on "Rock the House" night in Lewisburg, Pa. After dropping the first set 25-22 to the Raiders, Lehigh rebounded to win three-straight sets that included a dominating 25-16 set two performance. The night’s action was capped off by a kill from junior Amanda Clark for the match-point. The point was one of her game-high 20 kills to compete the 3-1 victory. Clark also hit an impressive .356 for the match, while junior libero Rachel Charles continued to be the heart of the defense, as she dug a game-high 32 attacks along with being on-point with her passing throughout the match.
Clark continues to lead the Mountain Hawk attack with a team-high 181 kills this season, averaging 2.83 per set. She is followed by senior Taylor Poole who has knocked down 158 kills, posting a 2.19 kps average. Freshman Ana Vrhel has registered a .288 hitting percentage for the Lehigh offense, which is good for third in the Patriot League. Junior Dana Raber has collected 421 assists as the setting specialist, while freshman Amy Matula has set up 330 kills this season. On defense, Charles has a team-high 353 digs on the year, averaging 4.90 per set which ranks second in the Patriot League, while Poole has blocked 68 total shots.
Including this season, Charles now has 1,152 digs in her career, moving her into sole possession of seventh place all-time in Lehigh volleyball history. Also moving up the record book rankings is Poole, who is now 13th in program history as the Keller, Texas native has recorded 258 total blocks in her career. Poole also has moved into 15th place with 781 kills, passing Veronica Ret (1995-99).
Delaware State will enter tomorrow’s match riding a six-match losing streak, as the Hornets have been swept in their last two matches. In their last match against Maryland Eastern Shore, the Hornets were defeated in straight sets in Princess Anne, Md. Delaware State played to a hard-fought 25-23 first set loss before dropping the second and third sets by final scores of 25-18 and 25-19, respectively. The Hornets currently sit at 4-15 overall for the season and 1-6 in conference play. The match against the Mountain Hawks will be the first of two non-conference games left on the Hornets’ schedule, as they will return home to host Rider on Thursday before closing out their regular season with five-consecutive conference games.
The Hornets are led by Jessica Russell-Croucher, as the junior has knocked down 169 kills over her 19 matches, averaging a team-best 2.52 kills per set. Two other Hornets have collected triple digit kills, as sophomore Edarkis Branch (151) and junior Brooke Redmon (100) have each made major contributions to the Delaware State attack. Senior Christobel Fakaosi is the setting specialist, as the Salt Lake City, Utah native has assisted on 551 kills thus far this season. On defense, four Hornets have recorded triple digit digs, led by Russell-Croucher with 154. She is followed closely by Fakaosi (152), Branch (149) and freshman Jasmine Jackson (139). Senior Laisha Davis leads the blocking game with 65 total blocks on the season, while Redmon has added 41 of her own.
After Tuesday’s match, the Mountain Hawks will begin a five-game Patriot League stretch with a match against rival Lafayette on Friday night for a contest slated to start at 7 p.m. at Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall.