Posted: 11/01/2012 | Last updated: November 1, 2012 at 11:34 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Off a crucial straight-set victory over the rival Leopards to begin a five-game stretch of Patriot League action, the Lehigh volleyball team continues with a weekend twin bill against American and Navy. Games two and three of the five-match streak will take place inside Leeman-Turner Arena when the Eagles and Mids travel to Bethlehem this weekend as Lehigh, currently the four-seed in the Patriot League standings, will continue to fight for a tournament spot.
The Mountain Hawks will open the weekend against American on Friday night. In September, Lehigh knocked off the Eagles in five sets for an impressive 3-2 victory in Washington, D.C., the first time a Lehigh squad has won on American’s turf. The Eagles still hold a 23-4 all-time advantage, but with the win, Lehigh and American have split the last four matches, dating back to November of 2010.
In that match, sophomore southpaw Kaylynn Genemaras paced the Lehigh attack with 15 kills on the night, consistently beating blocks and playing an outstanding game as an outside hitter. Junior Amanda Clark and senior Taylor Poole aided the Mountain Hawk offense with 12 kills apiece, while junior libero Rachel Charles anchored a solid defense with 29 digs. Lehigh and American split the first four sets before the Mountain Hawks were able to take the fifth and deciding set 15-13, courtesy of a game-ending kill by Poole.
Recently, Lehigh has been a winner in its last three matches, including a 3-0 sweep of the Lafayette Leopards last weekend to complete the third-straight season sweep of the crosstown rivals. Against Lafayette, sophomore Jade Van Streepen and Clark led the team with eight kills apiece as Van Streepen hit an impressive .353 for the match. Charles again played a solid game for the Mountain Hawks, collecting a game-high 17 digs, while Poole led the way with four total blocks as a part of a defense that held Lafayette to a -0.20 hitting percentage. The win was the second-consecutive straight-set victory for Lehigh, as the Mountain Hawks had dropped Delaware State 3-0 the previous Tuesday night.
Clark leads the Lehigh attack with 203 kills on the season, while freshman Ana Vrhel has hit .285 which ranks her third in the Patriot League. Along with Vrhel (118) and Clark, four other Mountain Hawks are in triple digit kills as Poole (171), Genemaras and Vanstreepen (125), along with junior Courtney McCutchan (116) have played important roles in Lehigh’s scoring this season. Junior Dana Raber and freshman Amy Matula have been the setting specialists, recording 466 and 358 assists each. Charles has collected 376 digs thus far, while Poole has blocked 73 opponents’ attacks to lead the defense.
American is coming off a critical 3-1 victory over the now five-seeded Navy Midshipmen last Friday. With the win, the Eagles have now won four of their last five matches, including three against Patriot League opponents as they now hold the third-seed in the Patriot League standings, one game ahead of the Mountain Hawks.
The Eagles are led by sophomore Sara Rishell’s team-best 240 kills and 2.89 kills per set average, which is good for fourth in the Patriot League. Four other Eagles are in triple digit kills as sophomores Kelly McCaddin (130) and Bree Scarborough (118), along with juniors Juliana Crum (161) and Morgan Hendrix (160) have all impacted the offense in an explosive way. Junior Kylann Scheidt is the setting specialist with 571 assists on the season, while the defense is led by Hendrix with 121 total blocks on the season. Crum is has been the steady force in the middle of American’s line-up with 204 digs thus far.
After Friday night’s tilt with American, the Mountain Hawks will return to the court on Saturday afternoon for a match against the Midshipmen of Navy. The Mids will play at Lafayette on Friday night before making the trip across town to Bethlehem for Saturday’s tilt. Entering Friday’s game, Navy has lost four of its last six Patriot League matches, including a 3-1 loss to American last Friday. Earlier in the season, the Mountain Hawks fell to Navy in five sets in the first game of an eight-game road trip for Lehigh. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak against the Mids that dated back to September of 2009.
Navy is led by junior Erin Fortner’s 233 kills and 3.24 kills per set that ranks her second in the Patriot League. Senior Carolyn Ewert has also made major contributions to the Mids’ attack with 207 kills and a 2.52 kps average which is good for eighth in the Patriot League. Three other Midshipmen have reached triple digits in kills including freshman Katie Sylakowski (147), sophomore Alex Cassel (139) and freshman Olivia Yeager (124). Freshman Alex Karika is the setter as the freshman has racked up 729 assists this season. On defense, Cassel has blocked a team-best 79 attacks, while senior Christy Rapp has steadied the point protection with 330 digs this year.
After this weekend’s matches, the Mountain Hawks will break until Friday, November 9 when they host Holy Cross at 7 p.m. before concluding the regular season with a 4 p.m. contest against Army inside Grace Hall at Leeman-Turner Arena.