BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Fresh off its first Patriot League victory of 2012, the Lehigh volleyball team will start an eight-game road trip that includes seven Patriot League battles beginning with Navy on Friday night, followed by a Saturday afternoon showcase with American. The Mountain Hawks swept the season series against Navy last year by scores of 3-0 and split with American, handing the Eagles their only Patriot League loss throughout the year.
Navy holds a 26-20 all-time advantage but the Mountain Hawks have won the last six meetings, as the Mids have not defeated Lehigh since November of 2008. American owns a 23-3 all-time mark against the Mountain Hawks, but Lehigh has taken two of the last six matches. The 2009 win over American snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Eagles, with the previous win coming in 1996. Lehigh will be seeking to continue its recent success against the Patriot League-foes this weekend when the battle-tested Mountain Hawks step into hostile territory in search of valuable Patriot League road wins.
In their last match, the Mountain Hawks earned their first 2012 Patriot League victory over the Bison of Bucknell, 3-1. After dropping the first set, 25-21, Lehigh rallied to take the next three including a commanding 25-13 set four win. Junior Amanda Clark led the Mountain Hawk attack with a game-high 16 kills, while freshman Ana Vrhel continued her torrid pace, hitting a team-best .438 with eight kills and six block assists. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles led the way with 20 digs, while Paige Kruse added three block assists of her own. The win was Lehigh’s fourth in-a-row over the Bison.
The Mountain Hawks are led by Clark’s 85 kills on the season as the junior is averaging 2.66 kills per set. Senior Taylor Poole is second with 78 kills and a 1.95 kps average. Poole also leads the Lehigh serving game with 13 aces, followed by Charles with 12 and junior Courtney McCutchan with 11. Junior Dana Raber is the Mountain Hawks’ setting specialist, averaging 5.88 assists per set, while freshman Amy Matula is averaging 4.55 aps. On defense, Poole leads the blocking game with 31 total blocks, followed by freshman Ana Vrhel with 27.
The Mountain Hawks will travel to Annapolis, Md. to take on the Navy Midshipmen on Friday for a game set for 7 p.m. Last season, Lehigh swept the season series in six straight sets to earn two important victories over the Mids. Now, the Mountain Hawks will look to build momentum as they begin a string of eight straight road games, with seven of them being Patriot League contests.
Navy is reeling from a four-set loss to Army over the weekend to even its Patriot League record to 1-1. Sophomore Case Trimble led the Mids attack with a team-high 11 kills, while junior outside hitter Erin Fortner added to her team-high 132 kills on the season by picking up 10 against the Black Knights. Sophomore Alex Cassel also finished with 10 kills, while freshman setter Alex Karika collected 42 of the 48 assists on the night. Freshman Jamie Francona led the defense with 18 digs and Cassel controlled the Navy-side of the net by registering seven block assists, adding to her team-best 53 total blocks on the season.
After the Friday night bout with Navy, Lehigh will travel to Washington, D.C. to battle the Eagles of American in a Saturday afternoon contest slated for 4 p.m. Last year, the Mountain Hawks shocked American by knocking off the Eagles in straight sets at Leeman-Turner Arena to snap the eventual League champions’ eight-game winning streak and hand them their only Patriot League loss of the year.
The American Eagles are coming off their first Patriot League victory with a straight set win over Holy Cross on Saturday. The Eagles dominated Holy Cross from beginning to end, not allowing the Crusaders to score more than 17 points in any set. Sophomore Kelly McCaddin paced the Eagles’ offense with a game-high 10 kills. American used 17 different Eagles in its line up throughout the night, as each player was able to contribute to the win.
Sophomore Sara Rishell leads the American attack with 115 kills on the season, averaging 2.56 kills per set. McCaddin is second on the team with 98 kills and a 2.51 kps average. Setting specialist Kylann Scheidt has registered team-highs in assists (395) and hitting percentage (.342) throughout her 14 matches this year. On defense, junior Morgan Hendrix is averaging 1.4 blocks per set as she has accumulated 67 total blocks over her 48 sets played, while freshman Allison Cappellino has collected 193 digs, averaging 4.2 per set.
After the two-game set this weekend, Lehigh will travel to Easton, Pa. to take on the rival Lafayette Leopards on Oct. 4. with a game time is slated for 7 p.m.