Lehigh wins exciting five-set match over Colgate
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team (18-8, 9-3 PL) defeated Colgate (12-15, 8-4 PL) Saturday on Senior Day in an exciting five-set match. With the victory, Lehigh now sits in sole possession of third place in the Patriot League. The win was also the Mountain Hawks’ first over the Raiders since 2004. Lehigh had a season-high 73 kills, led by junior Taylor Poole’s career-high 18 kills while sophomore Courtney McCutchan tied her career high with 18 kills and added 13 digs for her third double-double of the season.
“I think the effort was outstanding and we really competed the whole match,” said Bob Bertucci. “They made plays and made things happen. It was very exciting to see that kind of performance.”
The final point of the match came on an assist from senior Jessica Kudirka to senior Angelika Kopacz. It was a fitting ending to the match as the duo was honored before the game on their Senior Day.
“The icing on the cake was Jessica delivering a beautiful set to Angelika,” said Bertucci. “Angelika went up there and I’ve never seen her jump that high and she just crushed it. If you ever wanted a perfect ending to a Senior Day, there it was.”
Kudirka set a career-high with 64 assists on the match as her previous was 54 which she achieved earlier this season. Along with Kudirka, Poole and McCutchan, sophomore Amanda Clark added eight kills with a .538 hitting percentage and she added four blocks.
It didn’t start off well for Lehigh however as it dropped the first set 25-17. Colgate had come out on fire with 14 kills and two errors on 31 attempts for a .387 hitting percentage while Lehigh had 13 kills and seven errors on 33 attacks for a .182 hitting percentage.
In the second set, the Mountain Hawks jumped out to a 15-11 lead. Then with Lehigh holding a 16-13 edge, Colgate put together a string of eight straight points to take a 21-16 lead. Down 22-18, Lehigh then put together a run of its own. The Mountain Hawks scored five consecutive points, two of which came from McCutchan kills. Then tied at 23-23, Lehigh found the final two points to win the set 25-23 and even the match at 1-1.
The Mountain Hawks carried that momentum into the third set. With Lehigh holding a 15-14 advantage, the Mountain Hawks scored six straight to balloon their lead to 21-14. After Colgate got a point back, Lehigh scored the final four points to win the third set 25-15 and take a 2-1 advantage in the match.
In the fourth set, it looked like Colgate had gathered itself and was going to cruise as it turned its 17-14 lead into 21-14. Then with Lehigh trailing 22-15, the Mountain Hawks fought back and scored six unanswered points to cut the lead to 22-21. Colgate then had two match points at 24-22 but after a pair of attack errors, the set was even at 24-24. Lehigh was unable to get over the hump however as the Raiders scored two straight points to win the set 26-24 and force a decisive fifth set.
With Lehigh clinging to a 7-6 lead, the Mountain Hawks scored three straight points for a 10-6 lead. Just five points away from victory, Colgate didn’t go away as it cut the lead to 12-11. After a Lehigh kill and Colgate attack error, the Mountain Hawks had match point at 14-11. The Raiders won a point back before Lehigh finally got the last point to win the set and match.
Lindsay Young had 11 kills to pace Colgate while Michelle McCarthy and Kaylee Dougherty had 11 kills each.
The Mountain Hawks have now won nine of their last 10 matches and improved to 9-1 at home including 6-1 at home in league matches.
Already with a spot in the Patriot League Tournament, Lehigh has two matches remaining in the season to determine what seed it will be. The Mountain Hawks will travel to take on American next Friday at 7 p.m. followed by their regular season finale at Navy the following day at 4 p.m.
“This win has to prove to them they are as good as I’ve told them they are,” said Bertucci. “It has to give them a boost to their confidence.”