CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Bring on the Patriot League.
Army and Lafayette tweeted out messages echoing that sentiment when their respective competition finished up last weekend. It's a thought shared by all eight teams, who have played out four weekends of non-League matches to gear up for the opening weekend of League play, which kicks off with four matches Friday night.
Before the first weekend of League matches commences, there are three non-League tilts this week. Lehigh heads to Princeton Tuesday, while Wednesday boasts a pair of contests with American entertaining Coppin State and Lafayette going to Manhattan.
Army's visit to American Friday night is a rematch of last year's Patriot League title match, and their first meeting in 2012 could set the done for the next eight weeks. The rest of Friday's slate features Bucknell coming to Lafayette, Lehigh hosting Colgate and Holy Cross visiting Navy. All matches are set for 7 p.m.
The weekend continues Saturday with Lafayette entertaining Colgate and Holy Cross going to American, both at 2 p.m. Lehigh hosts Bucknell at 4 p.m., while Army and Navy play out their rivalry in primetime in Annapolis, Md., at 8 p.m.
Get ready for the League schedule by watching the preview video on Patriot League Round-Up!
Patriot League Notebook
Bucknell head coach Cindy Opalski reached the 400-victory plateau in her team's 3-0 win over Providence Saturday afternoon. The Bison then went out and collected No. 401 for their coach with a sweep of Quinnipiac. Opalski is the fourth coach in the League with at least 400 career victories, joining American's Barry Goldberg, Lehigh's Bob Bertucci and Navy's Larry Bock.
American freshman Allison Cappellino continued her strong defensive play over the weekend, as she averaged 3.45 digs per set in 11 sets at the Arizona Desert Classic.
Army's 2-1 showing over the weekend was good enough for second place at its own West Point Challenge. It's their fourth runner-up finish this season.
Colgate rookie setter Jackie Macy logged a season-high 48 assists in Saturday's four-set victory over Rhode Island.
Katie Sylakowski's .591 attack percentage (13-0-22) vs. Air Force ranks third in Navy history for a five-set match, while Alex Cassel's eight block assists against the Falcons is tied for sixth in school history for a five-setter.
Holy Cross senior captain Elizabeth Watters moved into fifth place in Crusader history with 1,102 career digs over the weekend, while freshman Emily Oliver hit .300 and averaged 2.07 kills per set at the Bulldog Invitational.
Navy's Erin Fortner logged 14 kills against Central Connecticut, a new career-best for her in a three-set match, as was the 15 digs hauled in by Carolyn Ewert against the Blue Devils.
Patriot League Weekly Awards
MOLTEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK MARY VACCARO, ARMYSo., S, Orinda, Calif. Vaccaro led the Black Knights in assists in all three matches last week, but also showed increased versatility as she took over the outside hitter role on certain rotations. She averaged 9.67 assists and 2.00 kills per match during Army's 2-1 week, which included eight kills and no errors on 11 swings in Sunday's 3-0 sweep of Sacred Heart. Vaccaro also averaged 2.22 digs per set and hit .387 for the week.
MOLTEN ROOKIE OF THE WEEK ALEX KARIKA, NAVYFr., S, Cranberry Township, Pa. Karika had the two best showings of her young career thus far with 35 assists in a three-set loss to the host Owls before bettering it with 37 more in a sweep of Central Connecticut in action at the Temple Invitational. She logged a double-double in the win over the Blue Devils, adding 12 digs. She also contributed a season-high three assists against Central Connecticut and another season-best four blocks against Temple. She averaged 12.00 assists and 3.17 digs per set for the weekend.
HONORABLE MENTIONS SARAH RISHELL, AMERICANSo., OH/MB, Smithsburg, Md. Rishell averaged 2.73 kills and 1.18 blocks per set as American competed in the Arizona Desert Classic. She logged 16 kills and five digs in the four-set win over Boise State.
JESSICA SERRATO, BUCKNELLJr., OH, Millbrae, Calif. Serrato played all nine sets for the Bison, who went 2-1 at their own invitational over the weekend. She hit .300 while averaging 3.22 kills and 2.33 digs per set, while posting double-digit kill performances against Fordham and Quinnipiac.
KAREN CAMPBELL, BUCKNELLFr., MH, Chesapeake, Va. Campbell was strong again for the Bison, hitting .429 while averaging 1.67 kills and 1.11 blocks per set as Bucknell went 2-1 over the weekend.
DIANE SEELY, COLGATESo., MB, Menlo Park, Calif. Seely hit .308 and averaged 2.76 kills and 1.08 blocks per set as the Raiders competed at the Columbia Invitational over the weekend.
SARAH FROHNAPFEL, LAFAYETTESr., S, Stafford, Va. Frohnapfel logged a double-double with 40 assists, which tied a season best, and 12 digs in Lafayette's five-set victory over St. Francis (N.Y.).
RACHEL CHARLES, LEHIGHJr., L, Farmington Hills, Mich. Charles averaged 4.64 digs per set and tallied 65 total across 14 sets last week. She had 13 digs in Lehigh's 3-0 sweep of Prairie View A&M at the TCU Molten Invitational.
ALEX CASSEL, NAVYSo., MH, Sandy, Utah Cassel had nine kills, a career-best for a three-set match, on 17 swings with just one error in Friday's bout with Temple, before adding eight more on 13 tries with no errors in Saturday's win over Central Connecticut. She hit .533 for the weekend and averaged 2.83 kills and 2.00 blocks per set.