BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team will play three games in two days when it travels to compete in the University of Virginia Tournament this weekend. The Mountain Hawks will go toe to toe with three adept volleyball teams when they start with Delaware on Friday and then play a twin bill against Virginia and Western Kentucky on Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be a challenge (playing three games in two days),” said head coach Bob Bertucci. “Most of the preseason tournaments have that format, we just haven’t done it yet. The bigger challenge is going to be the level of competition we’re playing against.”
Lehigh’s first match will be against Delaware at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The Blue Hens competed in the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament last season but were defeated by eighth-seeded Penn State. The Mountain Hawks are 3-30 all-time against the Blue Hens with the last meeting taking place in 2007 in which Delaware prevailed, 3-0.
On Saturday, Lehigh will play a doubleheader against the University of Virginia and Western Kentucky. Virginia holds a 2-0 all-time advantage over Lehigh but has not faced the Mountain Hawks since 2005.
When the Mountain Hawks clash with Western Kentucky at 5 p.m., it will be the first meeting between the two teams. The 2011 Sun Belt Tournament champions earned a bid to the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament last season and will provide a tough early match-up for the Mountain Hawks.
“We’ve upgraded our schedule by playing these teams and I hope we’re up for the task,” said Bertucci. “I’d really like to see them (Lehigh) play with a little bit more confidence.”
Bertucci is pleased with what he has seen from his team in practice and would like to see that level of play equate to competition when Lehigh takes the court this weekend.
“They’re a good volleyball team that I think has a good feel and understanding of the game and we’ve seen that through really good play in practice,” said Bertucci. “We need to have that same kind of performance on the court in an actual competition and I think that will happen. It’s just a matter of playing more games.”
Bertucci will rely upon his two-time first team All-Patriot League selection, Taylor Poole, to continue to play at one of the highest levels in Division I volleyball. Poole earned Honorable Mention in the Patriot League’s Weekly Awards after she collected 14 kills and five serving aces in the Mountain Hawks’ season opening win against Rider on Sunday.
“We’re going to count on Taylor to compete at her level of play in every match and we hope to have both our middles playing at that level,” said Bertucci. “I think what we need to do is get our outsides to be able to contribute a little more than they did in our match against Rider.”
The Mountain Hawks will return home on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. when they host Big East-foe Rutgers at Leeman-Turner Arena inside Grace Hall.