Nov. 22, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army volleyball team heads to the nation's capital to begin its quest for the 2013 Patriot League Championship this weekend. The third-seeded Black Knights face second-seeded Colgate in Saturday's second semifinal match at 5 p.m. The entire Patriot League Tournament, to include Sunday's championship, will be played at regular-season champion American's Bender Arena.
While Army takes on 2012 conference champion Colgate on Saturday, the host Eagles welcome No. 4 Lehigh for a 2 p.m. match. The winners will face-off Sunday at 2 p.m. with the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
"The Patriot League has been so unpredictable this season that it should make for a great tournament," said seventh-year head coach Alma Kovaci. "All four teams are capable of winning on any given night. I know all four teams want it, but the winner will be the team that remains calm under pressure and shows the ability to win those long rallies."
Named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year earlier this week, freshman middle blocker Olivia Fairfield will make her tournament debut this weekend as the Black Knights makes their conference-record 15th consecutive tournament appearance. Fairfield ranks eighth in kills behind teammate senior co-captain outside hitter Margaux Jarka, who comes in at the number six spot. Army also leads the league in digs, much of which is credited to senior co-captain libero D.J. Phee, who ranks second all-time in career digs for the Patriot League and first all-time for Army with 1,819.
After a 2012 season ending injury, senior middle blocker Megan Wilton has re-established her role as an offensive leader for the Black Knights with 204 kills and an average hitting percentage of .294 thus far. Wilton is joined by senior Kerry Horan and sophomore Nicole Perri, who have also helped the team earn its spot in the 2013 tournament with 202 and 208 kills, respectively. In addition, sophomore setter Vanessa Edwards has stepped up into a starting position leading the team with 701 assists and 271 digs.
Army has won four Patriot League titles with the last crown coming in 2009. Both players were major contributors as the Black Knights punched their ticket to the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in program history.
The 2012 Patriot League defending champions, Colgate come in as a balanced team which features Patriot League Player of the Year Diane Seely. Seely enters the tournament third in the Patriot League in hitting (.341), kills per set (3.26) and total kills (336). Senior setter Kaylee Fifer and senior outside hitter Lindsay Young joined Seely with All-League laurels, with both earning second-team honors. Fifer enters the tournament second in the league with 10.11 assists per fram, while Young has put together 2.38 kills per set and a .213 hitting percentage.
Colgate and Army have enjoyed some great battles in recent history. The last regular-season match between the teams went into three sets with the Raiders coming out on top. Army leads the all-time series with Colgate by a 32-28 margin.
All three tournament matches will be available on the Patriot League Network. Fans are also encouraged to follow @Army_Volleyball on Twitter for periodic updates, while stats full game recap will become available on goARMYsports.com following the match.