WEST POINT, N.Y. – Though the Mountain Hawks put forth a tough effort and resilient attitude, the Lehigh volleyball team was swept in straight sets by the Black Knights of Army on Friday night. Lehigh battled back in each set, but Army was too much, as the Black Knights were able to close out the Mountain Hawks and end each comeback attempt. Lehigh will now travel to Massachusetts to take on Holy Cross in another Patriot League duel tomorrow evening.
"I think we put a good effort out there and battled back most of the time," said Bertucci. "We were competing really well tonight, but I just think we have to get more consistent play and be more aggressive with our play. You end up making mistakes when you don’t play aggressively."
The first set started with the Black Knights taking the first three points en route to a 5-1 lead, the lone point by the Mountain Hawks coming via a kill by junior Amanda Clark. From there, Lehigh battled back to tie the score at five apiece after scoring four-consecutive points. Army opened up another four-point lead by scoring the next four to make the score 9-5. Lehigh then put together a 9-5 run, capped by a kill from Clark to knot the score at 14. After taking a one-point lead at 15-14, the Black Knights scored four straight to take an 18-15 lead, forcing a Lehigh timeout. Out of the break, Lehigh scored the next four points, courtesy of a block by Clark, kill by freshman Ana Vrhel, ace by senior Taylor Poole and a ball handling error by the Black Knights to take a 19-18 lead. The match would come down to the wire as the two teams were knotted at 24, but Army rattled off the final two points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
"They played very aggressively," said Bertucci. "We just didn’t capitalize on their mistakes and turn that mistake into two or three points."
The Black Knights raced out to a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Lehigh scored three-straight capped by a block-assist by Vrhel and Clark to tie the game at five. After several more ties, Army was able to take a 13-9 advantage, but again the Mountain Hawks would battle back to knot the game at 14 and then at 15, before Army was able to go on a 5-1 run to open up a 20-16 lead over Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks took the next two points to pull within two, but the Black Knights were able to finish off the set with a 25-21 win for a 2-0 advantage going into the break.
The third set began Army running out to an 11-4 lead, but Lehigh battled back to rattle off five-consecutive points to cut the lead to two. From there, Lehigh stormed back to tie the match at 13, but Army was then able to create a four-point margin at 21-17 after an 8-4 run, forcing Lehigh to burn a timeout. The Black Knights finished off the set on a 4-2 run for a 3-0 straight set victory, dropping Lehigh to a 3-3 record in the Patriot League.
"As we become more consistent, we will become more confident and that’s what is going to make us better."
Clark led the way for the Mountain Hawk offense, recording nine kills on the night, while three other Mountain Hawks collected four kills. Poole led the service game with two aces, as junior setting specialist Dana Raber had a team-high 15 assists. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles registered 15 digs, while four Mountain Hawks had two block-assists on Black Knight attacks.
"Rachel played really competitive and consistent throughout the match. But for us to be successful, we have to have our freshman and sophomores play like upperclassmen. No matter who it is, we have to play aggressive at the end of the game.
"We just have to put the last match behind us and look forward to the next match," Bertucci continued. "We have to get better in the next match and correct out mistakes."
Lehigh will look to rebound when it travels to Holy Cross tomorrow evening for a match against the Crusaders slated to start at 4 p.m. in Worcester, Mass.