Sept. 16, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
In its final tune-up before Patriot League play begins next week, sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro put together a stellar all-around match to key the Army volleyball team in a 3-0 win over Sacred Heart in the final match of the West Point Challenge on Sunday afternoon at Gillis Field House. The Black Knights cruised in a 25-16, 25-11, 25-14 win over the Pioneers en route to a second place finish at their home tournament.
Army (8-5) finished with a 2-1 mark, while visiting VCU took home the title with an unblemished 3-0 record on the weekend. Juniors Megan Wilton and Margaux Jarka represented Army on the All-Tournament Team.
On Sunday, Vaccaro led all players in kills (8) and assists assists (18). The Orinda, Calif., native hit for a .727 percentage without a single error in 11 attempts. She added seven digs and three block assists. Wilton and senior co-captain Francine Vasquez chipped in with six kills apiece, while rookie setter Vanessa Edwards totaled 13 assists. Army hit .223 as a team, including a .290 effort in the second set.
Army's defense amassed 11 total blocks, matching its second-best effort of the season. Wilton totaled five block assists, while freshman middle Zoe Kreitenberg registered four total blocks (two solo, two assists). Junior libero D.J. Phee continued put up big numbers again Sunday with a match-high 24 digs. Phee has reached the 20-dig plateau in four-straight matches. The Black Knights' defense held Sacred Heart to -.091 hitting on the day.
"I'm really proud of the way we grew this weekend," said sixth-year head coach Alma Kovaci after the match. "We were able to get a lot players experience and became more confident in all of our options. That's the great part about all of it is we have options. We have the ability to adjust and are extremely comfortable in doing so. The team is ready to attack and has the right chemistry going into the Patriot League. It's been a tough preseason, but we did that on purpose. It was our goal to be ready, and I believe we are."
With Phee at the service line, Army scored the first eight points of the opening set, which would end up being an indicator of things to come. The Black Knights did not trail in either of the first two sets, and their lone deficit of the day came facing a 1-0 hole to start the third set.
After securing a 25-16 first-set victory, Army scored 13 of the first 16 points of the second frame and led 13-3 on a Sacred Heart error. The Pioneers would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The teams traded points to start the third set, but Army wasted little time pulling away from Sacred Heart (2-11). Leading 4-3, Army took advantage of a Pioneer miscue and went on a decisive 12-5 run to put the match out of Sacred Heart's reach.
Karly Shockey led Sacred Heart with six kills for the match.
Army opens the Patriot League portion of its schedule against defending champion American on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. in a rematch of the 2011 Patriot League title match. The Black Knights visit rival Navy on Saturday at 8 p.m. with the annual "Star" match on the line.
WEST POINT CHALLENGE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Martina Samadan, VCU
Romana Kirskova, VCU
Kristin Boyd, VCU
Megan Wilton, Army
Margaux Jarka, Army
Traci Vandergrift, Albany
Johanna Ovsenek, Sacred Heart
Most Valuable Player - Martina Samadan, VCU