Kristyna Lindovska became American's third Molten Player of the Week in as many weeks on Monday.
Sept. 17, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- American's torrid pace to open the season continued last week with four more victories, and the Eagles put their 10-match win streak on the line this weekend when they travel out west for their last tournament of the non-conference slate. Lafayette and Lehigh, which have also jumped out to great starts, will officially lift the curtain on the new era of the nine-team Patriot League on Wednesday evening when the two battle in a 7 p.m. match in Bethlehem, Pa., on Patriot League Network.
PATRIOT LEAGUE QUICK HITS
American's 10-0 start is its best in program history, and is the second-best win streak to open a season in League annals. The League best is Colgate's 12-match win streak to open the 1991 campaign.
American's League-best team hitting percentage of .305 is also 11th in the nation, while its 15 kills per frame are seventh. Kelly McCaddin is seventh nationally in hitting (.480).
The Eagles are one of 12 unbeaten teams left in Division I.
Bucknell sophomore MB Karen Campbell and rookie OH Jordan Walker were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Bucknell Invitational over the weekend.
Colgate sophomore RS Kate Reilly logged 11 kills in Friday's four-set win over Fairfield and finished the weekend averaging 2.33 per set.
Lehigh's 8-3 record marks the program's best start since a 9-2 beginning in 1986.
Lafayette sophomore OH Brianne Giangiobbe led the Leopards last week with 38 kills in four matches, and was second in hitting at .247.
Lehigh (third, 2.1) and Lafayette (fifth, 2.0) are both ranked in the top five in NCAA Division I in aces per set.
Holy Cross rookie RS Natalie Welsch picked up All-Tournament honors at the Brown Invitational last weekend, her second such recognition this season.
Navy senior Opp. Erin Fortner has reached double digits in kills in seven matches this season, while reaching at least 10 digs four times.
Ten of the 14 Mids who played a set last week were either freshmen or sophomores.
Navy's Katie Sylakowski hit .368 last week with 32 kills on 76 swings with just four errors.
Mariah Brantley is Lehigh's first Molten Rookie of the Week since Courtney McCutchan was named twice during the 2010 season.
Loyola senior Faye Lukas' 23 kills last week versus Howard were the most by a Greyhound in a three-set match since 2004. She averaged an incredible 5.5 kills per set in two matches while hitting .247.
Lehigh has won seven straight and nine of the last 11 meetings with Lafayette.
Other League matches this week include Bucknell at Holy Cross and Lehigh at Army on Friday, at Lehigh visiting Holy Cross, Navy hosting Lafayette and Bucknell going to Army on Saturday.
Five matches this week, including four League battles, will air on Patriot League Network.
Patriot League Notebook
LOYOLA UPS NUMBER TO NINE
Before Loyola Maryland's official entry on July 1, it had been over a decade since the Patriot League had added a volleyball member. American had been the most recent addition in 2001, and since then the Eagles have captured 10 of 12 titles. The Greyhounds are looking for a similar string of success over the next dozen years. Third-year head coach Jake Lawrence guides a roster led by six seniors, and Loyola is hoping that leadership translates into a shot at contending for a League crown in its first season.
With 119 points and eight first-place votes, American was chosen as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League in voting conducted by its head coaches and sports information directors who could not cast a ballot for their own schools or student-athletes. The Eagles were a set away from claiming their 11th League championship in 12 seasons, but host Colgate rallied for a thrilling five-set victory to send American home disappointed. Army claimed the poll's second position with 112 points and five first-place votes, while the defending champion Raiders were third with 111 points and the last five first-place ballots. Lehigh (78 points), Navy (76), Loyola (52), Bucknell (50), Holy Cross (28) and Lafayette (22) rounded out the poll.
COLGATE TRIES FOR REPEAT
American's dominance since 2001 has made it difficult for other teams to win one League crown, let alone two. But that's exactly what Colgate will try to do after claiming its first Patriot League title since 1999. It was the fifth crown for the Raiders, who also captured the trophy in 1990, 1995 and 1996. In fact, Colgate joins American and Army as the only programs to win consecutive championships. Army did it in 1991-92, while American won eight straight from 2001-08 and two more in 2010-11.
HEAVY ON EXPERIENCE
Army senior OH Margaux Jarka was tabbed the preseason Player of the Year by the head coaches and sports information directors, and was one of two Black Knights to make the squad. Along with junior S Mary Vaccaro, the pair combines for a potent 1-2 combination that also features senior L D.J. Phee leading Army's defense. Seniors Kaylee Fifer (S) and Lindsay Young (OH) represent Colgate, while Lehigh placed seniors Rachel Charles (L) and Amanda Clark (MB). Navy senior OH Erin Fortner rounded out the seven-member preseason All-League team, of which Vaccaro is the only underclassman.
WATCH FREE ON THE PATRIOT LEAGUE NETWORK
2013-14 is the first of a multi-year agreement between the Patriot League and Campus Insiders who have teamed up to create the Patriot League Network, a streaming platform that will enable fans to watch League regular season and championship events for free. Currently more than 40 volleyball matches are tentatively scheduled to stream on the Network, both League and non-League, including the Patriot League Tournament.
INTRODUCING THE GREYHOUNDS
Jake Lawrence is in his third season as the head coach at Loyola Maryland, which comes to the Patriot League from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Greyhounds' first season was 1990, coincidentally the first season of Patriot League volleyball, and their first conference crown came in 1991. Loyola repeated in `92, but has been held without a trophy since. Key players include a pair of seniors in MB Jac Bullock and OH Faye Lukas. Bullock led the MAAC in hitting (.337) and earned second-team all-conference honors, while Lukas averaged 3.61 kills per set.
NCAA RECOGNIZES LEAGUE AGAIN
The Patriot League was once again a big winner when the NCAA announced its latest set of Academic Performance Program Public Recognition Awards and Academic Progress Rate data in June. Volleyball teams from Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh were three of the 71 total League teams cited for finishing in the top 10 percent of their sport in the most recent multi-year APR data, while six of eight schools from before the July 1 expansion boasted an APR of 985 or better. League newcomer Loyola fits right in with an APR of 986 for the 2011-12 academic year.
Patriot League Weekly Awards (9.9-9.15)
MOLTEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KRISTYNA LINDOVSKA, AMERICAN Jr., RS, Ostrava, Czech Republic
American is 10-0 for the first time in program history after Lindovska led the Eagles to three more 3-0 sweeps at the Crowne Plaza Invitational hosted by Penn over the weekend. The junior right-side hitter connected for 30 kills on 68 swings with eight errors to hit .324 while averaging 3.75 kills and 1.75 digs per set. Lindovska tallied double-digit kills twice, with 12 on 28 tries against Weber State and 11 on 19 swings against La Salle. She also contributed 14 digs, three aces and nine blocks across eight sets. Lindovksa played two of the three sets versus the Explorers, and averaged 5.0 kills, 2.5 total blocks and 2.0 digs per frame in the sweep.
MOLTEN ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
MARIAH BRANTLEY, LEHIGH Fr., L, Ashburn, Va.
Brantley had a breakout week subbing in for two-time Patriot League Libero of the Year Rachel Charles, who was sidelined with an injury. Making her first career start, the rookie from Ashburn, Va., tallied 26 digs, the most for a Lehigh libero this season, in a five-set loss to Morgan State. She reached the 20-dig mark again later in the weekend in another five-setter, this time a 3-2 win over Marist on Saturday. Brantley added a 16-dig performance against St. Francis (N.Y.) and a 13-dig showing against Quinnipiac, both sweep victories. For the weekend, Brantley averaged 4.69 digs per set with 75 across 16 frames and contributed four aces.
JORDAN WALKER, BUCKNELL Fr., OH, Euclid, Ohio
Hit .292 in a pair of Bucknell victories in three matches while averaging 2.29 kills per set. Committed just one error in 25 swings across five sets in a win over Fairleigh Dickinson and was named to the Bucknell Invitational All-Tournament Team.
KATHLEEN HARRIS, COLGATE Fr., OH, Playa del Rey, Calif.
Averaged 3.08 kills and 3.41 digs per set while hitting .248 for the Raiders during a 2-1 weekend at the LIU Blackbird Invite. Finished with 105 swings, including 88 across two matches against Fairfield and LIU.
NATALIE WELSCH, HOLY CROSS Fr., RS, Eden Prairie, Minn.
Posted another strong week averaging 3.14 kills per frame during the Crusaders' 2-2 stretch. Hit .353 in the team's sweep at Hartford.
BRIANNE GIANGIOBBE, LAFAYETTE So., OH, Bethlehem, Pa.
Averaged 2.92 digs per frame and hit .247 as Lafayette went 3-1 on the week. Accrued at least three total blocks in three matches, all wins.
JADE VAN STREEPEN, LEHIGH Jr., OH, Austin, Texas
Averaged 2.68 kills and 2.63 digs per set during Lehigh's 3-2 week, including three wins at the Crosstown Tournament. Added nine blocks and seven aces, and committed just one striking error in each of the team's last two matches of the weekend.
ERIN FORTNER, NAVY Sr., Opp., Villa Hills, Ky.
Posted two double-doubles, including a mammoth 18-kill, 20-dig performance in a five-set heartbreaker against Northern Kentucky. Totaled 55 kills and 52 digs on the week, averaging 3.33 and 3.08 per set, respectively.