Sept. 20, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Army volleyball team fought for five sets in a 3-2 win over Patriot League opponent Lehigh on Friday night at Gillis Field House. While the Black Knights, (4-1, 1-0 PL) had trouble finding their rhythm, a 15-9 win in the fifth set secured their first Patriot League win of the season.
“This was definitely not one of our best performances,” said head coach Alma Kovaci. “You have to give credit to Lehigh, they were prepared and they were a very good team. They were able to run their quicks really well and they played well on defense.”
“This was not one of our best days but as a coaching staff we are very proud of the team for winning the points when it mattered. Kristen Smeland came through for us in the fourth and fifth games with blocks and defense. I give a lot of credit to Megan Wilton tonight, for a tremendous performance. She played steady throughout the game whenever we needed her and she came back and delivered. It’s great to have her back at full speed and she carried the team tonight,” Kovaci continued.
Army totaled 60 kills in the match against Lehigh, while senior middle blocker Wilton led the team with 17 kills and an average hitting percentage of .400. Sophomore Nicole Perri and senior co-captain Margaux Jarka were also big contributors on offense with 16 and 13 kills, respectively. Sophomore setter Vanessa Edwards recorded 53 of the 57 assists in five sets.
Lehigh jumped out to an early 5-1, lead over the Black Knights. With kills from Jarka and a block from Wilton, Army was able to tie up the set, 9-9. Army continued to chip away at the deficit and stay within striking distance. With multiple forced errors on the Black Knights, the Mountain Hawks were able to pull away and gain a 19-11 lead. Major kills from Jade Van Streepin allowed Lehigh take a 25-18 win.
Again the teams traded points in the early phase of set number two, as kills from Wilton and Fairfield leveled the score at 7-all. Back-to-back kills from Jarka rrallied the Black Knights and gave them momentum to pull ahead 13-8. Army would maintain the upper hand for the remainder of the set as efforts from Wilton and Perri sealed a 25-22 victory over Lehigh.
Teams exchanged points in the beginning of set three, before Lehigh broke away from a 7-7 tie and take the lead. Kills from Kaylynn Genermaras and Amanda Clark allowed the Mountain Hawks to pull further ahead before the forced attacks pulled the Black Knights into a 17-17 tie. Army continued to hang tough down the stretch and drew within 24-20 on a forced error on Lehigh, but would get no closer. The Mountain Hawks took the final point of the match to pull ahead 2-1.
The Black Knights opened the fourth frame with kills from Perri and Wilton, but Lehigh was right there with them. In a set that featured 19 tied scores and 11 lead changes, both teams were in it for the win. The conference rivals would continue to rally for points keeping the score close. After the Black Knights served three straight kills from Perri and two from Fairfield, Lehigh’s Courtney McChutchan answered back with three kills of her own, keeping the score even at 23-23. As they surpassed the 25 point mark, Army and Lehigh continued to fight with the score tied, 27-27. A service ace from Perri help the Black Knights capitalize and win the set 29-27.
Army came out strong in the final set, and was able to take an early 6-3 lead. Efforts from Perri and senior Kerry Horan helped maintain the lead as the Black Knights would tally five of the next eight points. As Army continued to keep the lead, a block from Wilton and Horan secured a 15-9 triumph over the Mountain Hawks.
The Black Knights will hold their second match of the weekend against Patriot League contender Bucknell at Gillis Field House Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the match is free and open to the public. Fans who cannot attend the game will be able to watch the Black Knights on Knight Vision (subscription fees apply) or on GameTracker. A recap and stats will be available on goARMYsports.com following the match.