Leah Turner, '16, spikes the ball over the net at Grace Hall on Saturday in the matchup against American University. Lehigh beat first-ranked American in their final Patriot League matchup of the regular season, but ultimately lost the title to the Eagles.

Volleyball finishes as Patriot League runner-up

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After an inspiring end to the regular season with nine wins in a row, Lehigh women’s volleyball team headed into the Patriot League playoffs with momentum, but ultimately had to settle for being second best.

For the third time this year, the women’s volleyball team defeated Navy on Saturday in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks, after beating the No. 3 team 3-0, advanced to play American University. However, the Eagles won the match 3-0, making them the Patriot League Champions. This is the second year in which the Eagles have won the tournament and the first time since 2002 that the Mountain Hawks played in a Patriot League Championship match.

“Winning the semifinals against Navy and making it to the finals was really exciting for the team,” sophomore middle blocker Taylor Carroll said. “We played American and we were really excited to play the match and leave everything on the court. We’ve had a great season.”

Lehigh beat Navy in all three sets, the first two 25-19 and the last one 28-26, which featured seven kills by junior right side hitter Stephanie Slater. Lehigh also had a total of 51 digs compared to Navy’s 71.

“The team had a great season,” freshman libero Hannah Chalk said. “We put a lot of time and effort in preparation for the Patriot League Championship, and our hard work paid off when we defeated Navy on Saturday. Unfortunately, we came up short in the match against American.”

Lehigh was tied 12-12 midway through the first set of the match against American. Although the Mountain Hawks took the lead 15-14 during the set, the Eagles came back and won the set 25-17. By the end of the second set, senior outside hitter Jade Van Streepen led the Mountain Hawks with eight kills, while junior middle blocker Ana Vrhel had six.

American won the final set 25-20, giving them an overall record of 26-6 and a conference record of 15-1, with the one in-conference loss at the hands of the Hawks. Lehigh finished its season with an overall record of 22-10 and a conference record of 14-2.

“Despite losing against American, we accomplished our goal of making it to the Patriot League finals match and ended up being named the Patriot League runner-up,” Chalk said. “I am confident we will work even harder to earn the Patriot League title next year.”

Vrhel and sophomore libero Mariah Brantley were selected to the All-Tournament team. Brantley had two points against American and two points in the match against Navy. Vrhel had a total of nine points against Navy and got 9.5 points in the championship game against the Eagles.

Overall, the Mountain Hawks finished the 2014 fall season with 1447 kills, 555 errors, 4,126 total attacks, a .216 attack percentage, 13 kills/sets, 1,338 assists and 186.5 total blocks. The team has improved when comparing their statistics from last year — 1,414 kills, 618 errors, 3,950 total attacks, a .202 attack percentage, 13.1 kills/sets, 1,340 assists and 205 total blocks.

Last year, the Mountain Hawks had an overall record of 20-9 and a conference record of 11-5. They fell to American in the first round of the Patriot League tournament. They were 0-3 against the Eagles that year, but this year they were 1-2 head-to-head.

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