Mankus Leads Army In 3-0 Sweep

Box Score: Army 3, New Hampshire 0

Defending Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Year Ariana Mankus tied for a team-high 13 kills to pace the Army volleyball team in a 3-0 sweep of New Hampshire on Friday night at Gillis Field House. The Black Knights improved to 2-0 with the win and remain the only undefeated team remaining in the Army Invitational.

Mankus recorded her first double-double of the young season with a team-best 12 digs as Army toppled the visiting Wildcats 25-20, 25-22, 25-22.

"I am extremely proud of this team," said two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. "The team showed such great work ethic and the team's tenacity really showed. We tried a few different lineups throughout the day and the team responded. We have such depth this year and their game continued to elevate."

"Karyn (Powell) did a very good job setting for us today," she added. "Sam Starta also stepped in and contributed some really key points. Ariana (Mankus) stepped up in the second match especially. I was very proud of our team effort against two very tough opponents."

"I also can't say enough about the crowd providing such an amazing opening-day atmosphere, particularly for the New Hampshire match."

Junior OH Fabiola Castro finished with six kills and hit for a .286 percentage on the night, while senior MB Amanda Rowell finished with four kills and four blocks. Making her first collegiate start, Samantha Starta contributed three kills and two blocks. Senior co-captain Karyn Powell led all players with 27 assists. Freshman OH D.J. Phee, who paced Army's offense in the first match of the day opposite Fairleigh Dickinson, finished with 11 digs.  

The Black Knights' offense struggled to click through the first two sets against the Wildcats, hitting below .100 in each of the sessions. Army responded in a huge way in the third, however, exploding for a .406 team hitting percentage with 15 kills and just two errors on 32 attempts.

New Hampshire's Lauren Laquerre tied Army's Mankus with 13 kills on the night.

The match entertained 28 ties and 11 lead changes in its entirety, while taking just over an hour and a half to complete.

With the score tied at 10-all in the opening set, Army embarked on a 6-2 run to establish a 17-12 lead. The Wildcats responded, however, pulling back to within one (17-16) as Mankus hit into a block. Coming out of an Army timeout, the teams continued to battle back-and-forth. A UNH error put Army up by a 20-18 score and the Black Knights went on to out-score the Wildcats 5-2 to secure the win.

The second set opened just as the first set had with the teams finding themselves tied at 10-10. The Wildcats then took a 13-11 lead just four points later. Army scored eight of the next 11 points in response, which put the Black Knights on top 19-15. Although UNH pulled back to within one (23-22) down the stretch, Army never relinquished the lead. Back-to-back kills from Castro accounted for the final two points as Army took a 2-0 lead in the match.

In a third that featured 13 ties and four lead changes, neither team led by more than the final three-point (25-22) margin the entire way. The final tie of the match came at 20-20 and it was Army able to swing the momentum its way, using a 5-2 run to close the match. Mankus totaled two kills and Powell added another to account for three of Army's final five points. UNH pulled to within one (23-22) on an Amy Keding kill, but the Wildcats fell victim to back-to-back errors to relinquish the final two points.

Army returns to the court for a pair of matches on Saturday. The Black Knights will take on Iona at 12:30 p.m. and St. John's at 5:30 p.m. The Army-St. John's match will be available on ITT Knight Vision. Click here to watch.

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