Nov. 23, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Looking to capture the Patriot League title for the first time in five years, the Army volleyball team's quest for the crown fell short to defending champion Colgate Saturday evening at American's Bender Arena. In the second semifinal match of the day, the Black Knights could not outlast the Raiders in a 25-11, 25-20, 25-22 decision.
Top-seeded American swept No. 4 Lehigh in Saturday's first semifinal contest, setting up a Colgate-American final on Sunday at 2 p.m. The winner will earn the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Making its record 15th consecutive tournament appearance, Army closed out the season with a 14-13 overall record in the program's seventh-year under head coach Alma Kovaci.
Patriot League Rookie of the Year middle blocker Olivia Fairfield and senior co-captain right side hitter Margaux Jarka led the Black Knights on offense with seven kills apiece, while senior middle blocker Megan Wilton and senior right side hitter Kerry Horan followed with five kills each.
Defensively, senior co-captain libero D.J. Phee contributed 13 digs, finishing out the season with a program record 1,832 digs. The Black Knights stood strong at the net with nine blocks to the Raiders' five.
"This is not how we wanted to end the season, but I am very proud of the team," said Kovaci. "We have had to struggle with a ton of adversity this season and the way that they have responded to each situation has been astounding. I am proud of the seniors for not only this season but for their efforts over four years. They are incredible and will be missed."
Jarka opened the first set with a kill before the Raiders climbed ahead, 7-4, with a three-point rally. While kills from sophomore right side hitter Nicole Perri and Wilton kept the Black Knights in the game, another four-point Colgate rally forced Army into its first timeout. With the score 14-7, the Raiders continued to stretch its lead to nine, allowing the Black Knights to score only two additional points, before Army opted to take its second timeout of the set. With two kills from Colgate's Katie Reily, the Raiders went on to collect a 25-11 win over the Black Knights.
Colgate came out to capture the first three points of the second set, before Army tied it up, 4-4, with a kill and service ace from Fairfield. After the Raiders pulled ahead, 11-8, the Black Knights began to chip away at the deficit to tie the set, 11-11. Coming out of a quick timeout, the Raiders collected three straight points and captured the lead with a kill from Kathleen Harris. Though Army stayed close behind with kills from Wilton and Jarka, Colgate held onto its lead and went on to close the set with a 25-20 victory.
The third and most competitive set of the night opened with 10-point rally, as teams went point-for-point and sat tied 5-5 early. After an early Colgate timeout, two kills from Harris were answered with Army kills from Jarka and Horan to tie the set, 14-14. As Colgate pushed ahead, taking a 16-14 lead, the Black Knights found their momentum after a timeout and came back to tie the game once again, 21-21. Allowing Army to collect its final point of the post-season, the Raiders went on to win the semifinal match with a 25-22 third-set victory.
Fans are reminded to follow @Army_Volleyball for updates throughout the offseason.