Posted: 10/09/2012 | Last updated: October 9, 2012 at 08:37 PM
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Mountain Hawks battled back against the Wildcats all night, but Villanova was too much as the Lehigh volleyball team fell to the Wildcats on Tuesday evening, 3-1. The Wildcats snapped Lehigh’s two-match winning streak as the Big East-foe withstood the resiliency of the Mountain Hawks in each match. Lehigh will now return to Patriot League play on Friday night against the Army Black Knights.
"There were times that we were playing really good and made things happen, but we were just too inconsistent," said Bertucci.
Lehigh fell behind in the first set to Villanova, 7-3, before the Wildcats rattled off a seven-point run to open the game up to a 14-3 lead over the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh would cut the lead down to nine several times but Villanova was too much in set one, as the Wildcats grabbed a 1-0 lead in the match after a 25-10 set victory.
The second set started with the Wildcats jumping out to a 7-3 lead again over Lehigh, but this time the Mountain Hawks immediately rallied to tie the set at 12 points apiece after a kill by junior Paige Kruse. From there, the two teams would trade points, tying several times before Lehigh was able to gain a 20-18 advantage after a kill and a block by sophomore Kaylynn Genemaras. Villanova would take the next point to cut the lead to one, but Lehigh finished off the set on a 5-2 run to win 25-21 and even the match at one set apiece, capped by an ace from senior Taylor Poole.
"I think we played a little bit cleaner on our side of the net," said Bertucci. "We controlled the ball a little better and did a little better job on cutting down on the unforced errors."
Set three started with Lehigh and Villanova trading points until the game was tied at five. The Wildcats then went on a 6-1 run to take an 11-6 lead in the set, but Lehigh rallied to get the game within three points at 16-13, courtesy of a kill by Kruse. Villanova then went on to score the next six points to gain a 22-13 advantage in the set. The Mountain Hawks were resilient, battling back again to close the gap to 24-20 after a 7-2 run, but the Wildcats were able to score the final point and take the set, 25-20, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
With their backs against the wall, the Mountain Hawks needed a win in set four to extend the game to a decisive fifth set. The two teams again traded points until the score was tied at five, but the Wildcats then went on a 7-2 run to open up a five-point lead at 12-7. Lehigh scored the next five points to tie the set at 12 points apiece, capped by a service ace from junior Courtney McCutchan. The match then went back-and-forth as the teams tied several more times until they were knotted at 20 points apiece when Poole recorded a kill for Lehigh’s 20th point. Lehigh took the next two points for a 22-20 advantage, but Villanova scored five-consecutive points for the 25-22 set win and a 3-1 match win.
"I think Taylor did well attacking as she usually does," said Bertucci. "I think she gave us a good effort."
Poole led the Mountain Hawks attack with 12 kills on the night as the senior hit .308, followed by Kruse who collected nine. Freshman Amy Matula led the setting game for Lehigh with 22 assists, while junior Dana Raber registered 18 of her own. Junior libero Rachel Charles played solid defense, recording 17 digs, while McCutchan dug 13 attacks and served two aces. Junior Amanda Clark and Genemaras combined for six total blocks on the night (three apiece), while Poole had two blocks of her own.
"We have to stay in the competitive mode," said Bertucci. "Tonight kept us ready to play because at this point in the season, playing games is what keeps you ready."
Lehigh will now travel to West Point, N.Y. on Friday, October 12 as the Mountain Hawks return to Patriot League play at 7 p.m. with a match against the Black Knights.
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