Oct. 4, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Whomever was going to win Friday’s American-Army match knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It certainly wasn’t, but in the end it was American that was able to rally from down 2-1 to take a thrilling five-set victory against the Black Knights on the road in the first meeting of the regular season between the two most recent League champions.
Patriot League Volleyball Release - 10.4.11
Freshman Sara Rishell continued her impressive play en route to the first Molten Player of the Week nod of her career. The rookie out of Hagerstown, Md., hit .452 on the week and notched an incredible performance in Saturday’s four-set win at Holy Cross, in which she hit .679 with 20 kills on 28 attempts with just one error. However, her most important effort of the week came in the fifth set at Army, where she picked up a pair of kills and notched two key blocks to help lift the Eagles to a 15-11 win in the decisive frame.
Another freshman, Kelly McCaddin, stepped up for the Eagles as well last week. She increased her hitting percentage in each match, logging a .391 in the five-set win over Morgan State before increasing it to .450 versus Army and .464 against Holy Cross. She tallied 33 kills on 71 swings with only two errors during 14 frames of action for the week. She also recorded eight blocks, including two block assists against the Black Knights and four versus the Crusaders. McCaddin’s Molten Rookie of the Week award is the first of her career.
The Eagles overcame a monster showing by Army junior Ariana Mankus in Friday’s match. She logged 23 kills and 20 digs with a pair of blocks and two service aces.
Colgate posted a dominating week, going 2-0 with convincing victories at home against Lehigh and Lafayette. Head coach Ryan Baker’s team was spearheaded by several players, including sophomore setter Kaylee Fifer, who averaged 9.50 assists per set and accounted for 11 kills on 18 swings with one sole error in the two matches. The Raiders jumped into a second-place tie with Army at 3-1 in League play, and appear to have found their game as the first leg of League play rolls on.
Lehigh, Holy Cross and Bucknell earned splits last weekend in addition to Army. The Mountain Hawks own the early advantage on the Crusaders for fourth place thanks to victory in the teams’ first meeting. The first Army-Colgate match of the season is set for Oct. 15 in Hamilton, N.Y.
Three non-League contests are set for Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Colgate is back in action at Syracuse, Holy Cross takes to the road at Bryant and Army closes out its three-match homestand with a contest against Sacred Heart.
The third weekend of League play features the first meeting of the year between travel partners. American, which has won six of seven matches on opponents’ floors this season, visits Navy Thursday at 7 p.m. First-year head coach Bob Bertucci gets his first taste of the Lafayette-Lehigh rivalry when his Mountain Hawks host the Leopards in Bethlehem, Pa., Friday at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s slate boasts a pair of League matches, with Holy Cross welcoming Army to Worcester, Mass., at 2 p.m. Bucknell will hit the road and try to cool down Colgate in a 4 p.m. match in Hamilton.
Patriot League Weekly Awards
MOLTEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
SARA RISHELL, AMERICAN Fr., OH/MB, Hagerstown, Md.
Rishell contributed mightily to American’s 3-0 week and extending the team’s win streak to six. The Eagles picked up a pair of League victories on the road, including Friday’s come-from-behind five-set victory at Army. In the deciding fifth set, Rishell tallied a pair of kills and logged two key solo blocks to help lift American to the 15-11 win. The next day at Holy Cross, she logged 20 kills with only one error to hit .679 in a 3-1 win over the Crusaders. Rishell hit .452 for the week, totaling 46 kills and 11 blocks. She averaged 3.29 kills per set.
MOLTEN ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
KELLY McCADDIN, AMERICAN Fr., MB, West Caldwell, N.J.
McCaddin was strong in all three of American’s wins last week but picked up her play against League teams. Her efforts were instrumental in the Eagles’ 3-2 win Friday at Army, as she picked up two kills and a pair of block assists as American won the fifth frame 15-11. She scored 10 kills with only one error and hit .450 with three total blocks in the match. In Saturday’s four-set win at Holy Cross, McCaddin logged another 14 kills, again with just one error, and picked up four block assists. She hit .437 for the week, averaged 2.36 kills per set and totaled seven blocks.
MARY VACCARO, ARMY Fr., S, Orinda, Calif.
Vaccaro averaged better than 11 assists per set and logged at least 50 for the sixth time this season when she recorded 56 against American.
ARIANA MANKUS, ARMY Jr., OH, Lisle, Ill.
Mankus averaged 3.88 kills and 4.25 digs per set as the Black Knights went 1-1 on the weekend. She led all players with 23 kills and 20 digs in the five-set loss Friday to American.
MARI FAINES, COLGATE Fr., MB, Chicago, Ill.
Faines had the best weekend of her young career, logging seven blocks with four solos. She had six stops in Colgate’s sweep of visiting Lehigh Friday, forcing the Mountain Hawks to a negative hitting percentage.
KAYLEE FIFER, COLGATE So., S, Lantana, Texas
Fifer was remarkably consistent with 28 assists against Lehigh and 29 more versus Lafayette as Colgate swept both in League play over the weekend in Hamilton, N.Y. She also hit .556 in the wins, recording 11 kills on 18 swings with only one error.
KYLEIGH McAHREN, BUCKNELL Sr., RSH, Napa, Calif.
McAhren hit .393 with a team-high 14 kills and added six digs in Bucknell’s sweep Friday over Lafayette.
MEGAN LYNCH, HOLY CROSS Jr., OH, Mendham, N.J.
Lynch averaged 4.29 kills and 3.71 digs per set in the Crusaders’ 1-1 weekend, which included a sweep of Navy.
Patriot League Notebook
THE STREAK CONTINUES
American improved to 4-0 and is now the only unbeaten team in Patriot League play after the first two weekends of action. The Eagles have extended their regular-season winning streak against League opponents to 26, and have not suffered a loss since dropping a 3-2 decision to Army back in 2009. American, which won all 14 of its League matches a year ago, won its final eight during the 2009 campaign to finish 11-3 in the standings but fell to Army in the finals of the Patriot League Tournament.
Colgate played just its fourth and fifth home matches over the weekend and hosted an opponent for the first time since Aug. 27. The Raiders quickly showed they enjoy the home-court advantage by posting a pair of 3-0 victories over visiting League rivals Lehigh and Lafayette. Colgate’s defensive effort was a huge key in the sweep of the Mountain Hawks, with Mari Faines totaling six blocks (including three solos) and Kaylee Dougherty logging four block assists. The Raiders held Lehigh to a -.038 hitting percentage. It was more of the same in Colgate’s sweep Saturday over Lafayette, with the Leopards hitting just .021 and Kenzie Hume leading the Raiders with three block assists. Colgate visits Syracuse Wednesday evening before playing its next seven at home.
Several Patriot League teams and a few student-athletes find themselves situated quite high in the NCAA’s latest statistics as of Monday. Lehigh and Lafayette are both in the top 10 in Division I in service aces per set, with the Mountain Hawks sixth with 1.90 per frame and the Leopards ninth at 1.82. Those teams will meet Friday night at Lehigh. Army freshman Mary Vaccaro remains one of the nation’s most proficient setters, averaging a League-high 11.58 assists per set, good for 11th in the country. Lehigh’s Rachel Charles leads the League and is 15th in the country averaging 0.49 aces per set.
ROAD TO THE TITLE
The 2011 Patriot League Tournament is slated for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 19-20, with the semifinals taking place Saturday and the championship Sunday. The winner earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Tournament is hosted by the No. 1 seed, which is the team that finishes with the best regular-season record against League competition. Being the top seed has its perks, as each of the last 11 tournament hosts have held serve to claim the League crown and advance to the NCAA Tournament. It also occurred in 1996 (Colgate) and 1998 (Bucknell). Bucknell hosted and won the League title in 2000 before American ran off eight straight titles from 2001-08 when it hosted the four-team playoff at Bender Arena. Army entertained the field and won in 2009 before the Eagles recaptured the championship on its home floor one year ago.
DEFENDING CHAMPION AMERICAN DOMINATES PRESEASON POLL
A year after running the table in the Patriot League, winning 29 matches and narrowly falling in five sets to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, American claimed the No. 1 spot in the League’s preseason poll just a few days before the start of the regular season. With the maximum 98 points and 14 first-place votes, the Eagles are the overwhelming favorite to repeat as League champions in 2011. American was trailed in the poll by 2009 League champion Army, which captured 83 points. The two remaining first-place votes went to 2010 runner-up Colgate, which finished third in the balloting with 73 points. Bucknell captured fourth with 57 points, followed very closely by Lehigh in fifth with 56 points. The poll was rounded out by Navy in sixth (34 points), Holy Cross in seventh (28) and Lafayette in eighth (19).
APR GRADE IS A-OK
Patriot League schools once again excelled when the NCAA released its most recent Academic Progress Rate in May. Ninety-seven percent of League teams came in at or above the national Division I four-year average score of 970. In addition, over 65 percent of League teams tallied a score of 990 or better. Eighty-two teams from full-member institutions and 73 League-sponsored squads were awarded NCAA Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent of their sport’s APR.
PATRIOT LEAGUE ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND YOUTUBE
In addition to following all the action in the Patriot League on its official website, fans can get caught up on stories, features and other useful information by finding the League on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The Patriot League’s YouTube channel features over 100 videos, half of which have been produced since the start of the 2011-12 academic year, highlighting many of the League’s fall sports and its student-athletes. Two of the most recent videos is a short feature on Holy Cross junior Megan Lynch and another addressing the special relationship between Army coach Alma Kovaci and Lehigh coach Bob Bertucci. Visit the Patriot League on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/PatriotVideo.