Lehigh volleyball will have yet another chance to dethrone American University as the top volleyball school in the Patriot League.
In last year’s tournament, Lehigh defeated Navy to secure a spot in the championship match, but then lost to No. 1 seed American 3-0.
“We are not implementing any new strategy for the tournament,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “Our seniors have stepped up throughout the season, and our underclassmen have excelled at filling the gaps. We need to stay focused and keep our heads clear.”
Senior outside hitter Leah Turner was recently named to the first team All-Patriot League after recording 370 kills, 229 digs, 45 total blocks and 23 service aces this regular season. Lehigh will look to Turner to provide the consistent high-level play that she has demonstrated this season.
Senior right side hitter Stephanie Slater was named to the second All-Patriot League team after a regular season total of 315 kills and a .260 hitting percentage. Freshman Setter Megan Polak just received Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors after recording her first career double-double against College of the Holy Cross on Nov. 13.
There is a great sense of pride in the honors that Lehigh Volleyball players have received in the weeks leading up to the tournament. During the Lehigh vs. Army game, a total of six All-League team members will be on the court. This speaks to the high-level competition that will be exhibited during the tournament.
An interesting aspect to American’s lineup is that it features the Player of the Year and Setter of the Year in senior Monika Smidova, Libero of the Year in sophomore Hoakalei Dawson, Rookie of the Year in freshman Carmen Unzue and Coach of the Year in Barry Goldberg.
Lehigh is taking the tournament game by game, focusing on the Army matchup first. It won its last match 3-0 against Army on Nov. 16 in West Point, New York.
The first matchup of the tournament is No. 1 seed American versus No. 4 seed Colgate University. American is undefeated at 16-0 in its conference matchups this season, whereas Colgate posts a 10-6 conference record.
Lehigh comes into the tournament with an 11-5 conference record and Army is 12-4 in conference matchups. Army has recorded 1507 kills on the season, compared to Lehigh’s 1461. A potential difference-maker in Lehigh’s matchup against Army is the number of aces that each team has recorded on the season.
Lehigh has 180 aces, whereas Army comes in with 137 aces. Getting ahead on the serves will be an important aspect of Lehigh’s tournament action this weekend.
On Nov. 21 at 4 p.m. in the Bender Arena in Washington D.C., No. 3 seed Lehigh will face No. 2 seed Army West Point in an effort to advance to the Patriot League’s Championship match.