Posted: 11/02/2012 | Last updated: November 2, 2012 at 06:29 PM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team dropped to American on Friday night in straight sets despite an outstanding performance by freshman Stephanie Slater in her first collegiate match. Slater finished the game with seven kills, while sophomore southpaw Kaylynn Genemaras led the team with 11 kills and a .304 hitting percentage. The Mountain Hawks will now await Navy tomorrow afternoon in another crucial Patriot League tilt.
"I’m pretty disappointed," said head coach Bob Bertucci. "I don’t think we performed to the best of our ability tonight. There are a lot of mitigating circumstances with the week we just went through, but you have to be able to put that behind and I think the girls did the best they could."
The first set started as a tightly played match with neither team able to gain a definitive advantage. The Mountain Hawks fell behind early at 9-6, but battled back to make the score 10-9 after a 4-1 run. The Eagles started to pull away at that point, extending their lead to 20-13 courtesy of a 10-4 run. Lehigh again fought back, scoring the next three points to cut the American advantage to four at 20-16, but the Eagles proved to be too much as they finished the set by taking five of the next nine points for the 25-20 win.
Set two again started as a closely played match as the teams were locked at a 7-7 draw early on. After a kill by Genemaras and two attack errors by the Eagles, Lehigh took a 10-7 advantage and looked to have control of the match. Lehigh added to its lead, taking a 12-8 advantage that was capped by a kill from senior Taylor Poole which forced an American timeout. The Eagles began to chip away at the Lehigh lead, creeping back into the game and cutting the Mountain Hawks’ advantage to just one at 16-15. Lehigh bumped the lead back up to two after a kill by Genemaras, but the Eagles knocked down the next three to gain a one-point lead at 18-17, forcing a Lehigh timeout. Out of the break, the Mountain Hawks knotted the score at 18 apiece, but American went on a 3-0 run to open up at 21-18 advantage, forcing another Lehigh timeout. Out of the third break of the set, Lehigh battled back yet again to cut American’s lead to one at 22-21. The Eagles again opened up a three-point lead at 24-21, but Lehigh scored the next two to pull within one. With the score 24-23, American was able to knock down the final kill to end the set at 25-23 and take a 2-0 advantage.
With their backs against the wall, Lehigh needed a strong start to the third set, but American raced out to a 7-1 early advantage. Lehigh battled, cutting the lead to 16-9 after a kill by Poole, but the Eagles kept the pressure on, and after taking four of the next seven points, took a 20-12 advantage. American ended the third set on a 5-3 run to win 25-15, and take the match in straight sets.
Along with Genemaras and Slater, Poole contributed six kills to the Lehigh attack, while junior Courtney McCutchan and sophomore Jade Van Streepen added four apiece. Junior Dana Raber and freshman Amy Matula led the setting game with 22 and 11 assists, respectively. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles led the team with eight digs, while Raber and McCutchan added seven apiece. Freshman Ana Vrhel was a force at the net, blocking a game-high five attacks, while Slater added three block-assists of her own.
"I think Stephanie did extremely well for her first collegiate experience," said Bertucci. "I was very happy with her performance, but we needed the rest of the team to rise to the occasion and support her and Kaylynn. Kaylynn did a great job on the right side and really stepped up her game and that’s just what we needed.
"I think it was a tough match for us and we didn’t play our best," Bertucci continued. "We could have done better, but we’ve got to regroup and be ready for this good Navy team we have up next."
The Mountain Hawks will take to the court tomorrow afternoon for a crucial match against the Navy Midshipmen slated to start at 1 p.m. Tomorrow’s match will involve playoff implications as Navy entered its match with Lafayette on Friday night one game behind the Mountain Hawks in the Patriot League standings.