BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Reeling from a 3-1 loss to Big East-foe Villanova on Tuesday night, the Lehigh volleyball team will be searching to get back in the win column when the Mountain Hawks travel to West Point, N.Y. and Worcester, Mass. this weekend for a couple of crucial Patriot League match-ups against Army and Holy Cross. Lehigh is 3-1 in its last four Patriot League matches and the Mountain Hawks will look to continue that success as nine of their last 10 games will be against Patriot League opponents, including the next four.
The Mountain Hawks’ loss to the Wildcats on Tuesday snapped a two-match winning streak. Lehigh defeated American 3-2 and Lafayette 3-0 in a pair of road matches before Nova handed them a loss in Philadelphia.
Against Villanova, the Mountain Hawks dropped the first set 25-10, but then rebounded to take the second, 25-21, to level the match at one set apiece. After falling behind early in the third set, the Mountain Hawks rallied, but the Wildcats were able to close out the match for a 25-20 win. The fourth set started much like the others as Lehigh fell behind, but with their backs against the wall, the Mountain Hawks battled back again to take a 22-20 lead. Villanova was able to rattle off five straight points, ending the Lehigh comeback attempt and giving the Wildcats a 3-1 victory.
Senior Taylor Poole led Lehigh’s offensive effort with 12 kills and a .308 hitting percentage. Junior Paige Kruse registered nine kills to aid the Mountain Hawk attack, while Amy Matula led the squad with 22 assists. On defense, junior libero Rachel Charles led the team with 17 digs, while Courtney McCutchan contributed 13 of her own. Junior Amanda Clark led the blocking game with three total blocks, while McCutchan added two more.
The Black Knights of Army will enter Friday night’s match with a 4-1 record in the Patriot League as the Mountain Hawks will compete for a win that could swing the league standings. The Black Knights have played five consecutive Patriot League games leading into Friday’s match, with their only loss coming to top-seeded Colgate (5-0) on Sept. 29. Army is led by senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus, who leads the team with 219 kills and is the reigning Patriot League Player of the Week after leading all players in kills (13), digs (12) and hitting (.667), while making just one error on the night in a 3-0 win over Holy Cross on Saturday. She is followed by junior Margaux Jarka, as the outside hitter has knocked down 175 kills on the season, averaging 2.69 per set.
On defense, the Black Knights’ senior middle blocker Francine Vasquez leads the team with 50 total blocks, averaging 0.77 per set, while junior Megan Wilton has registered 46 total blocks with a 1.00 bps average. Junior D.J. Phee and Mankus have collected 349 and 255 digs, respectively, to lead the team’s defensive effort.
The Mountain Hawks hold an 11-30 all-time record against the Black Knights, as Army has won the last 18 meetings between the two teams including a 3-0 win in last year’s Patriot League Tournament to end Lehigh’s season. The Mountain Hawks will be looking for redemption, but Lehigh has not won in West Point since November of 2003 when the Mountain Hawks took down the Black Knights, 3-0.
Holy Cross holds a 1-19 record and sits at 1-4 in the Patriot League. The Crusaders snapped a 17-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Bucknell at home on Sept. 29, before dropping their last two matches to Army and Florida Atlantic. Holy Cross has been swept in 15 of its 19 losses this season, but has also gone to five sets in two of their losses.
Senior outside hitter Megan Lynch leads the team with 157 kills, averaging 2.53 kps, while freshman Emily Oliver is second with 96 on the season. Sophomore Mary-Kate Short has recorded a team-leadi
ng 31 blocks for the Crusaders, while both Liz Ashton and Hannah Grace-Stokes have tallied 27. Senior Elizabeth Watters has collected 260 digs on the season, averaging a team-best 3.94 per set, while Lynch, Strokes, and sophomores Heather Roberts and Julia Gould have all registered triple digit digs thus far.
Lehigh leads the all-time series against Holy Cross 30-11 and has won the last eight encounters. The Mountain Hawks have not fallen to the Crusaders since 2007, in which Holy Cross picked up its only Patriot League win of the season with a 3-0 victory in November.
Following the weekend slate, the Mountain Hawks return to action Oct. 19 when they travel to play Bucknell before paying a visit to top-seeded Colgate the next day as they wrap up the eight-game road trip in Hamilton, N.Y. The squad will return home on Tuesday, Oct. 23 for their non-league finale against Delaware State at 7 p.m. that begins a six-match home stand.
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