Army Blanks Marist, 3-0

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The Army volleyball team snapped a five-match losing streak with a commanding 3-0 win over Hudson Valley rival Marist on Wednesday night at the McCann Center. Sophomore OH Ariana Mankus led Army with nine kills and eight digs, while freshman OH D.J. Phee added eight kills in the 25-16, 25-13, 25-21 victory.

Senior MB Amanda Rowell and freshman MB Megan Wilton each totaled six kills, while sophomore RS Francine Vasquez totaled four kills and led all players with three blocks. Vasquez played for the first time this season, coming back from an injury that sidelined the second team All-Patriot League player for seven matches. Senior S Karyn Powell totaled 27 assists.

Army hit for a season-high .342 percentage with 36 kills on the night. Army amassed six total blocks compared to Marist’s one. The Red Foxes saw their four-match win streak come to an end as they dropped to 5-4.

“The team played well together tonight,” said two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. “We really focused on consistency and I thought Karyn (Powell) did a good job running the offense. She is settling in and getting better every match. We also got a boost from Francine (Vasquez) who returned from injury. Some of our freshmen, D.J. Phee and Megan Wilton specifically, have stepped up and improved a lot since the start of the season.

“We are coming off some really tough matches, so I was proud of the way the team played tonight against a quality Marist team. It’s our goal to take things one point at a time, one match at a time. We do not catch a break in our schedule and are hoping that will prepare us for Patriot League play later this month.”

Army (3-5) jumped in front out of the gate, building a quick 8-2 lead in the first set. Marist pulled to within three (14-11) midway through the action, but the Black Knights proceeded to use a 7-2 run to put the set out of Marist’s reach. Vasquez put the exclamation point on her season debut as she ended the set with a kill and block in order.

The Black Knights seized control immediately to start the second set, racing out to a 12-5 lead following a Marist miscue. The Red Foxes would get no closer than eight (19-11) late in the game, but Army closed the set riding a 6-2 run en route to a decisive 25-13 triumph.

Easily the most competitive set all night, the third frame featured 10 ties and four lead changes. The score seesawed back-and-forth over the first half of play and the teams found themselves locked at 16-16. Army went on to use a 7-2 run to pull ahead by a 23-18 score. Marist would not go away, however, but the Black Knights were able to evade a rally in a 25-21 win.

Army held Marist to a .068 hitting percentage on the night. Freshman OH Grace Hill led all players with 11 kills, followed by senior MB Lindsey Schmid with seven.  

Wednesday night’s contest marked Army’s final tune-up before heading to Indianapolis, Ind., for the Butler Invitational this weekend. The Black Knights take on Xavier and host Butler on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively. Army will close the four-team tournament with a showdown opposite UNC Wilmington on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

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