Sept. 27, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Looking to extend its perfect 2-0 start in Patriot League play, the Army volleyball team hosts Bucknell and Colgate this weekend as it begins an eight-match homestand at Gillis Field House. The Black Knights welcome Bucknell on Friday night and Colgate on Saturday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m. and will be available via Knight Vision webcast.
Army improved to 10-5 on the season following a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over defending champion American last Friday and a 3-1 triumph over service-academy rival Navy in Annapolis on Saturday. The Black Knights have won each of their last four matches, dating back to the West Point Challenge.
Bucknell (6-9, 0-2 Patriot League) enters the weekend in search of its first Patriot League win, while Colgate (4-12, 2-0) and Army sit tied atop the current conference standings.
After the first weekend of league play, Army continues to lead the conference in kills (13.36 per set), assists (12.49) and digs (18.04). Junior middle blocker Megan Wilton tops the conference averaging 3.43 kills per set, as does sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro (10.09) in assists and junior libero D.J. Phee in digs (5.38).
For a stellar defensive effort in last weekend's matches, Phee picked up her first career Army Athletic Association Athlete of the Week honor on Monday. She averaged a gaudy 5.11 digs per set and helped hold both American and Navy well below a .200 hitting percentage.
A mainstay of the Black Knights offensive juggernaut for four years, senior co-captain Ariana Mankus garnered both Molten Patriot League Player of the Week and ECAC Division I Volleyball Player of the Week honors earlier this week. Mankus paced Army with 20 kills in the win over American, the Black Knights' first against the Eagles since the 2009 Patriot League championship match. Mankus averaged 3.56 kills and 4.44 digs per set over the Army's first two conference tests. She also passed Sunny Barse '95 to take over second place on Army's all-time kills list with 1,368.
Army has enjoyed great success against Bucknell under the direction of head coach Alma Kovaci, owning a perfect 10-0 record against the Bison during her six-year tenure. The Black Knights hold a 26-13 advantage in the all-time series.
The Bison play their first four matches on the road, a stretch that began with a pair of 3-1 losses at Lafayette and Lehigh last weekend. Junior outside hitter Jessica Serrato and freshman outside hitter Claire Healey lead Bucknell's attack, averaging 2.35 and 2.08 kills per set, respectively. Senior middle blocker Kebah Edoho (1.93 kills per set) ranks third in Patriot League in both hitting perecentage (.292) and blocks (1.02 per set). Junior outside hitter Morgan Mientus lands just behind Phee in second place with a 4.45 digs-per-set average.
Colgate and Army have enjoyed some great battles in recent history. Both regular-season matches in 2011 went to five sets with the Black Knights coming out on top in each instance. Army leads the all-time series with Colgate by a 32-24 margin.
After struggling through a tough non-conference slate, the Raiders posted a pair of road sweeps last weekend at Lafayette and Lehigh. Colgate saw its three-match win streak snapped at Cornell on Tuesday night as it fell in a 3-2 decision.
Junior outside hitter Lindsay Young (2.86 kills per set) ranks fourth in the league in kills, while sophomore middle Diane Seely (2.13) and senior outside hitter Michelle McCarthy (2.08) list second and third on the team, respectively. Junior libero Caitlin Cremin's 0.34 service aces per set land second amongst Patriot League leaders.
Freshman setter Jackie Macy averaged 7.16 assists per set last weekend en route to Molten Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors on Monday morning. She is the first Raiders player to pick up weekly conference honors this season.
Along with the Knight Vision webcasts of both matches (subscription fees apply), fans are encouraged to follow @Army_Volleyball on Twitter for real-time updates throughout the weekend.