Army Sweeps Lehigh On Dig Pink Night

Zoe KreitenberG celebrates one of her 10 kills.

Zoe KreitenberG celebrates one of her 10 kills.

Oct. 12, 2012

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WEST POINT, N.Y. - Senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus led all players with 13 kills, while freshman middle blocker Zoe Kreitenberg registered 10 kills and a match-high six blocks as the Army volleyball team swept visiting Lehigh on Friday night at Gillis Field House. The Black Knights debuted specially designed pink Nike uniforms in support of Dig Pink, a national volleyball initiative to raise breast cancer awareness.

After squeaking out a 26-24 win in the opening set, Army completed the sweep with 25-21 and 25-19 wins in sets two and three, respectively. The Black Knights remain in sole possession of second place in the Patriot League standings with a 5-1 mark. Army improved to 13-6 overall and 7-3 at Gillis Field House.

"Tonight was not our best match, but I thought they did a good job as a team," said sixth-year head coach Alma Kovaci. "We went to the locker room after the second set and talked about refocusing on the aspect of being a good teammate and taking the pressure off yourself. They came out refocused and it showed.

"Finishing with a 3-0 win against a very talented, well-coached team is a great accomplishment for us," she added. "This team is competitive, driven and relentless. I could not be more proud of that."

Mankus hit for a .342 percentage and tallied six digs. Starting her eighth match of the season, Kreitenberg delivered with a .500 hitting percentage with just one error in 18 attempts. Setters Mary Vaccaro and Vanessa Edwards split time distributing the ball and finished with 20 and 15 assists, respectively.

"We've been working really hard in practice and have been really focused the last couple of weeks," Mankus said following the match. "I think that's been showing in our last couple of matches. At the end of the day, it's about your teammates and all of them helping you get the job done."

Juniors Margaux Jarka and D.J. Phee led the defense with 12 and 11 digs, respectively. Army tallied nine total blocks and held Lehigh (6-9, 3-3 Patriot League) to a .028 hitting percentage as a team. In addition to Kreitenberg's career-high in blocks, senior right side hitter Francine Vasquez and sophomore middle Molly McDonald totaled three blocks apiece.

The Black Knights cruised to a 5-1 lead to open the match, but Lehigh slowly chipped away and leveled the score at 13-13 midway through the action. Eight additional ties would ensue as the team's played back-and-forth the rest of the way. A Lauren Wood service ace broke a 23-23 tie score and gave the Black Knights a chance to serve for set-point. The Mountain Hawks then benefited from an Army miscue and kept the set alive. Mankus delivered a kill for Army's 25th point, while a Lehigh hitting error sealed the 26-24 Black Knights victory.

The opposite of the first set, the teams played point-for-point to start set two before Army pulled away late. A Mankus kill tied the score at 8-all and sparked a 5-1 run that gave the Black Knights a 12-9 lead. Lehigh would later tied the score at 14-14, but that would be the closest the Mountain Hawks would get the rest of the way. Another Mankus kill served as the springboard for a 6-2 Army run that included another kill from Mankus to go with Vasquez and Jarka. The surge gave the Black Knights a 20-16 lead and forced a Lehigh timeout. Army went on to score five of the final nine points of the set, including a pair of Kreitenberg kills, to seal the win.

The most lopsided of the three sets, Army scored the first three points of the final set unanswered. Lehigh would not go quietly, however, tying the score twice midway through the action. A Kreitenberg kill broke a 13-13 tie score and the Black Knights went on to use a 7-4 run to establish a 21-17 lead. Army cruised to a 25-19 win from there.

Lehigh's Amanda Clark led the Mountain Hawks with nine kills and four total blocks.

The Black Knights return to the court tomorrow night to face Lafayette at 7:30 p.m. The Gillis Field House faithful will help honor Alumni Night as Army welcomes back former players from the last three decades. Fans unable to attend the match are encouraged to watch via Knight Vision or follow @Army_Volleyball for real-time updates.

Match Notes: Army is 8-2 in three-set matches this season ... the Black Knights won their 19th-straight match against Lehigh and improved to 31-13 all-time against the Mountain Hawks ... West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. David Huntoon was in attendance for the match ... current Lehigh head coach Bob Bertucci coached at Army in its inaugural season in 1979 ... Bertucci also guided Army head coach Alma Kovaci during her Hall of Fame career at Temple.

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