Mountain Hawks Allison Garret, Ava Hudson and Sabrina Lancester practice their serves during practice on Monday, Sept. 19, 2019, at Grace Hall. The team has four more games left in the regular season before the Patriot League Tournament. (Julia Randolph-Flagg/B&W Staff)

Volleyball hunts for Patriot League Tournament spot

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The Lehigh women’s volleyball team now sits fifth in the Patriot League (6-6), with an overall record of 13-13, after two losses at home this weekend against Navy (1-3) and American (0-3). 

The Mountain Hawks also lost earlier this season to both American and Navy, who are ranked first and third, respectively, in the league. 

“They were tricky the first time around when we played them,” senior middle blocker Lauren Bright said. “We knew it was going to be a tough battle to begin with.”

On Friday night, the Mountain Hawks lost the first two sets to the Navy Midshipmen 17-25 and 21-25, respectively. Lehigh fought back and took the third set from Navy 25-16, but the late push wasn’t enough, and the Mountains Hawks lost the fourth set 21-25. 

On Saturday afternoon, Lehigh was still unable to find success, losing to American. The Eagles swept the first three sets — 15-25, 18-25 and 19-25, respectively. 

While Lehigh fell short against the Midshipmen and the Eagles, the Mountain Hawks still maintain the same goal of Patriot League Tournament qualification. The top six teams in the league standings at the end of the regular season qualify to compete in the championship tournament. 

“I think the overarching goal is to make the Patriot League Tournament,” coach Alexa Keckler said. “I would like to hope that one of the team’s goals is to beat one of the teams above us right now.”  

Junior outside hitter Hannah Wright said the team is looking to clinch the third or fourth spot in the league, to gain home court advantage in the first round of the tournament. Currently, both Army and Colgate are ranked higher in the league than Lehigh. 

Keckler said Lehigh has the advantage of having exceptionally strong attacking players. She said Wright has stepped up in the last four matches and has been performing at the highest level. In both games this past weekend, Wright led the Mountain Hawks in kills with 14 each match. 

Along with Wright’s strong performances, Keckler said senior libero and defensive specialist Jess Donaldson and junior outside hitter Sabrina Lancaster have also been keys to the team’s success. As well as consistently playing at a high level this season, both Donaldson and Lancaster have stepped into leadership roles on and off the court, Keckler said. 

However, Keckler said Lehigh’s success this season can be attributed to everyone on the team. Wright said the Mountain Hawks have a lot of depth on the bench, which is useful because if a starter is unable to perform, there are a cavalry of talented players who can take her place and make an impact.

Wright said this depth is a result of the team’s close-knit dynamic.

“Liking all your teammates as friends off the court definitely translates well onto the court,” Wright said.

Saturday also marked Senior Day for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh’s six seniors were recognized before the match against American. Along with Bright and Donaldson, Ana Spangenberg, Victoria Hemsath, Emily Poole and Julia Pressly received recognition for their contributions to the program.

“All of the seniors had a really nice time,” Bright said. “The rest of the team put so much effort into putting the event together. I’m just so happy I went (to Lehigh). I really feel like I made the right decision, and it’s been a great four years.” 

The Mountain Hawks will travel to New York this weekend for rematches against Army and Colgate. Lehigh will play Army in West Point, NY, on Friday at 7 p.m., before taking on Colgate in Hamilton, NY, on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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