Sept. 24, 2011
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After spotting Bucknell the first two sets, the Navy volleyball team rallied to defeat the Bison in five sets Saturday afternoon at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis. The Midshipmen (6-11, 1-1 Patriot League) prevailed over the Bison (3-8, 0-2) by set scores of 18-25, 19-25, 25-19, 26-24, 15-13.
Navy improved to 4-0 this season in matches decided in five sets. This comes one season after the Mids were 1-6 in five-set matches.
Saturday's win also marked the first time Navy has won a match after dropping the opening two sets of a match since Nov. 8, 2005.
"It will be intriguing to see if we can springboard off of a match like today," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "This definitely was a signature win for us at this time in our development. Our players have done a good job of taking baby steps; a win like this is more than a small step for us. Recording a good win over a good team such as we did today can go a long way in giving us confidence down the line when we will need it."
The score in the decisive fifth set was tied at 7-7 when the Bison posted back-to-back points to take a 9-7 lead. The two teams traded sideouts to make the score 10-8, then a kill by Christy Rapp (Jr., Royal Oak, Mich.) and a block by the tandem of Katie Bray (Jr., Cary, N.C.) and Alex Cassel (Fr., Sandy, Utah) tied the score at 10-10. Shelby Mass (So., Owings, Md.) returned to the service line and recorded an ace to give the Mids an 11-10 lead, which quickly grew to 12-10 on an attack error by Bucknell's Kebah Edoho.
The Bison sliced the margin in half on a kill by Jessica Serrato, but it became a two-point difference again when Bray blocked Edoho. Bray and Cassel teamed up again for a block, this time on a swing by Serrato, to take Navy to match point with a 14-11 lead. A blocking error by Cassel made the score 14-12, and it became 14-13 when Bray was blocked by the duo of Serrato and Anne Ellenberger. However, Bray redeemed herself on the next point when her attempt sliced through the Bucknell defense to end the two-hour and 25-minute match.
"We were the underdogs heading into the fifth set," said Bock. "And in a fifth set, being the underdog can help. We really had momentum from the third and fourth sets on our side. I felt we were in control of the match from the middle of the fourth set on. Bucknell wasn't able to just tee off on us as they were earlier."
The match started with Bucknell jumping out to an 11-3 lead at the start of the first set on its way to winning the opening frame. The Bison then held a narrow lead through most of the second set when a 5-0 run gave them a 23-17 advantage that the Mids could not slice into anymore.
Navy started its rally in the early part of the third set. A 10-9 lead by the Mids quickly became a 13-9 cushion that soon grew to advantages of 16-11 and 21-16.
The fourth set saw the score tied 10 times and the lead change hands on five different occasions. Both teams held early three-point leads that quickly evaporated. Bucknell would eventually take a 21-19 lead late in the set, only to see Navy score the ensuing four points to build a 23-21 lead. After a kill by Bucknell's Kyleigh McAhern, Maida Kalic' (Sr., Vernon, N.Y.) tallied a kill of her own to give Navy a 24-22 lead. Serrato notched a kill and then Mass was whistled for a ball-handling error that knotted the score at 24-24. Rapp proceeded to knock down a kill and then Carolyn Ewert (Jr., Bakersfield, Calif.) posted a kill of her own to close out the set and send the match into a fifth set.
"We made very minor adjustments after the second set," said Bock. "I think our passing really settled down, and Holly, Christy and Katie were right in the middle of that. Katie was really effective with her hitting and Shelby started going to the right places at the right time. Caroline Jacobs (So., Arnold, Md.) really brought a lot of energy to the floor. We also had some huge blocks down the stretch that helped."
Navy tallied 66 kills in the match and hit .234 on the afternoon, while Bucknell finished the contest with 55 kills and a .257 attack percentage. Defensively, the Mids held a 75-62 advantage in digs, with the Bison holding a 12-7 lead in blocks.
Kalic posted a career-high 16 kills to lead the Navy offense. Ewert finished the match with 15 kills and 11 digs, while Bray also notched a double-double of 13 kills and 16 digs. Both Bray and Cassel finished with four blocks apiece. Holly Berger (Sr., Claremont, Calif.) led the Navy passers with 20 digs, while Rapp hauled in 14 digs for the Mids.
Leading all players in the match was Serrato with 21 kills. Bucknell's Leylin Marroquin matched Berger's dig tally, while Ellenberger finished the afternoon with nine blocks.
Navy will take to the road for a pair of matches next weekend. The Mids will play Friday at Holy Cross before facing Army Saturday in the annual Star Match between the teams.