BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team will hit the road for its fourth straight game away from Bethlehem as the Mountain Hawks will travel to Princeton, N.J. to take on the Tigers at 7 p.m. Lehigh will be the first team welcomed into Dillon Gymnasium on the Princeton campus this season and will face-off against a 3-6 Princeton squad that has dropped two straight matches. The Mountain Hawks earned a win on Friday night over Prairie View in the TCU Molten Invitational Tournament before dropping two competitive matches to No. 3 USC and TCU on Saturday.
Lehigh is 3-13 all-time against the Princeton Tigers, with the last match ending in a 3-1 victory for the Mountain Hawks in 2011. The win snapped a three-match losing streak against the Tigers and was the first since 1993. The loss to Lehigh was Princeton’s only defeat in the 2011 Lehigh-Lafayette Invitational after wins to start and finish the tournament.
Junior libero Rachel Charles has collected 123 digs thus far this season, giving her a career total of 922. She is now in 11th place all-time in Lehigh volleyball history and is closing in on recent-graduate Angelica Kopacz (1,046) for 10th place. Charles is coming off her second All-Tournament Team selection this season after collecting 42 digs over three games as the staple of the Lehigh defense during the TCU Molten Invitational this past weekend.
The Mountain Hawks were able to knock-off Prairie View A&M on Friday night in straight sets to pick-up their second win of the season. Senior Taylor Poole and junior Amanda Clark recorded 10 kills apiece to pace the Lehigh offense. Freshman Ana Vrhel posted a .533 hitting percentage on nine kills, while Poole also hit an impressive .421. Lehigh would not allow the Panthers to take a lead in the first two sets before winning a third set barnburner, 25-23, to take the match.
On Saturday, the Mountain Hawks took on No. 3 USC in the afternoon before a Saturday night showdown with host TCU. Against USC, the Lehigh played the Women of Troy tough in the first two sets, losing 25-18 and 25-14. From there, the Mountain Hawks were unable to keep the intensity needed to hang with the third-ranked team in the nation, dropping the third set 25-9. In the nightcap, Lehigh played with TCU point-for-point throughout the match but were unable to rattle off the run needed to take a commanding lead, falling in straight sets 3-0.
On the season, Poole leads the Lehigh offense with a team-high 59 kills, followed closely by junior Courtney McCutchan with 53 and Clark with 50. Junior Dana Raber has collected a team-best 155 assists as the setter specialist, while freshman Amy Matula has recorded an equally impressive 120 assists. On defense, Poole has 19 total blocks, while the 6-3 Vrhel has 13 thus far, including a team-high four solo blocks.
Princeton enters tomorrow night’s game with a 3-6 record after two straight losses to BYU and New Hampshire to end its George Washington Invitational. Lehigh will be the first home match of the 2012-13 season for the Tigers who boasted a 7-1 record inside Dillon Gymnasium last season.
The Tigers are led by 6-0 senior outside hitter Lydia Rudnick, who has posted 115 kills and registered a 3.97 kills per set average in 2012. She is followed by sophomore Nicole Kincade who has collected 71 kills and a .329 hitting percentage this season. On defense, the 6-2 Kincade has recorded a team-high 41 blocks and a 1.32 blocks per set average to stop opposing offenses.
After tomorrow night’s match, the Mountain Hawks will have two days off before they begin Patriot League play on Friday night when Bucknell will be welcomed into Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall for a match set to begin at 7 p.m.