Nov. 1, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - With just four regular-season matches remaining, the Army volleyball team hits the road for a crucial Patriot League weekend of matches at Colgate and Bucknell on Friday and Saturday, respectively. With at least one victory this weekend, the Black Knights would clinch a Patriot League Tournament berth for a record 14th-straight season.
Army (17-7, 8-2) visits first-place Colgate on Friday night at 6 p.m. with revenge in mind. The Raiders handed Army one of its two Patriot League losses, while the Black Knights swept Bucknell during the first half of conference play. Army visits the Bison on Saturday at 5 p.m. Please visit the volleyball schedule page of www.goARMYsports.com for live statistics or follow @Army_Volleyball on Twitter for periodic updates.
The Black Knights head into the weekend in sole possession of second place in the Patriot League standings with an 8-2 record, currently bested only by Colgate's 9-1 mark. Army leads the Patriot League in kills (13.67 per set), assists (12.78), digs (18.25) and opponent hitting percentage (.133) heading into this weekend's matches. The Black Knights' dig mark ranks eighth nationally, while junior libero D.J. Phee's 5.61 digs per set individually land 16th in the NCAA and first in the Patriot League.
Phee anchors the Army defense, but the offense has had plenty of contributors this season. Senior co-captain Ariana Mankus 3.42 kills per set lead the Patriot League's hitters. With 12 kills in a win over Manhattan last Wednesday, she cracked the Patriot League's top 10 for career kills. She averaged 4.00 kills per set over two matches last week en route to her second Molten Patriot League Player of the Week accolades on Monday. Mankus, who entered the league's top 10 for career digs earlier this season, currently sits in seventh place all-time amongst the Patriot League's kill leaders (1,471) and second in Academy history.
In addition to Mankus, junior outside hitter Margaux Jarka recorded double-digit kills in both matches last week and is second on the team in that category (2.82 per set). Two-time Patriot League Rookie of the Week Zoe Kreitenberg joins sophomore Molly McDonald as the backbones of Army's middle attack. McDonald is fresh off hitting for a career-best .636 percentage in a win at Holy Cross last Saturday.
Colgate (12-13, 9-1) 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 32-25 margin.
After struggling through a tough non-conference slate, the Raiders caught fire to open conference play, winning their first eight matches in a row. Colgate most recently posted a 3-1 home win over Bucknell on Cotterell Court.
Junior outside hitter Lindsay Young (2.87 kills per set) ranks fifth in the league in kills, while senior outside hitter Michelle McCarthy (2.40) and sophomore middle Diane Seely (2.39) list second and third on the team, respectively. Junior libero Caitlin Cremin's 0.35 service aces per set land first amongst Patriot League leaders.
Bucknell (8-17, 2-8) sits in a tie with Lafayette for sixth in the current Patriot League standings. The Bison will celebrate Senior Day prior to Saturday's 5 p.m. match. Junior outside hitter Jessica Serrato and freshman outside hitter Claire Healey lead Bucknell's attack, averaging 2.33 and 2.30 kills per set, respectively. Senior middle blocker Kebah Edoho ranks second in the Patriot League for hitting percentage (.288) and third in blocks (1.03).
This weekend marks the start of four-straight road matches for Army to close out the regular season. The Black Knights will visit Lafayette and Lehigh next weekend. The top four teams qualify for the Patriot League Tournament, which will be hosted by the highest seed and be played on Nov. 17 (semifinals) and 18 (championship match). For more tournament information, visit www.patriotleague.com.