Oct. 25, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The second leg of Patriot League play began last weekend, and it followed a very similar script to the first run through the schedule as several teams completed season sweeps of various opponents.
Patriot League Volleyball Release - 10.25.11
American picked up two more wins over Bucknell and Colgate to bring the Eagles a step closer to their 11th straight appearance in the Patriot League Tournament. The Eagles defeated Colgate in four Friday night and swept Bucknell Saturday to move to 10-2 overall on the road and 6-1 in away matches during League play. American closes the regular season with five straight League showdowns at home, beginning with Friday’s match up against Navy. A win would officially wrap up a bid to the League Tournament for the Eagles, who are eyeing a chance to host the four-team playoff for the second straight year and 10th time overall.
It was a total team effort for the Eagles, but sophomore outside hitter Juliana Crum stood out with 27 kills and just three errors during the weekend. She was named Molten Player of the Week by the Patriot League Monday after hitting .521 across 10 sets last week in which the Eagles went 3-0 with a victory over Howard also included. On Tuesday Crum added another honor as she was named the CVU.com National Player of the Week.
American remains tied in first in the League standings with Army, which captured wins over Lafayette and Lehigh at West Point to secure the season sweeps against both. The Black Knights moved to 8-1 on the season and would also officially secure their 13th consecutive League Tournament berth with a victory Sunday against visiting Holy Cross. Freshman Mary Vaccaro set the record for most Molten Rookie of the Week awards when she garnered her seventh nod Monday.
Four teams have non-League matches scheduled this week. Both Lehigh Valley schools will be on the road Tuesday night, with Lafayette going to NJIT and Lehigh visiting Delaware State. Both contests are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Holy Cross returns to the floor Wednesday when it tries to start a winning streak when it hosts New Hampshire at 6 p.m. Head coach Erin Walker will lead the Crusaders into the match against her alma mater. At 7 p.m. Army takes the short trip down the Hudson River to visit Manhattan.
This weekend is the second of the season where the League’s travel partners will go head-to-head. In addition to American’s match at home against Navy Friday night, Lehigh will head to Lafayette for a 7 p.m. start. Colgate and Bucknell will have Saturday all to themselves when the two square off at 4 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pa. Holy Cross and Army will play Sunday at 1 p.m. at West Point.
While two of the four bids to the League Tournament can be secured this weekend, Colgate and Lehigh, which are tied for third at 6-3, could also take giant steps toward their own bids this weekend. Victories for both, along with losses by Bucknell and Holy Cross, would put the Raiders and Mountain Hawks one win shy of the postseason.
Patriot League Weekly Awards
MOLTEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JULIANA CRUM, AMERICAN So., OH, Hacienda Heights, Calif.
Crum was stellar during a 3-0 week for the Eagles, including two more League wins to stay on top of the standings. After recording 14 kills with only one error and hitting .565 against Howard in a 3-0 win, she had 17 kills on 30 swings with just one error in a four-set win at Colgate and added 10 kills and hit .444 in a sweep at Bucknell. She averaged 4.10 kills and 2.60 digs per set and hit .521 for the week with just four errors on 71 attempts. Crum added eight aces for the week and picked up a double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs in the Colgate win.
MOLTEN ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
MARY VACCARO, ARMY Fr., S, Orinda, Calif.
Vaccaro sets the record with her seventh Rookie of the Week nod of the season after averaging 10.88 assists and 3.62 digs per set during another 2-0 weekend for the Black Knights, who remain tied with American at the top of the League standings with five matches remaining. She collected a pair of double-doubles, with 40 assists and 13 digs in Friday’s four-set win over Lafayette and 47 assists and 16 digs in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Lehigh. Vaccaro added a career-high six service aces Friday against the Leopards, with three coming in the second set.
KAYLEE DOUGHERTY, COLGATE Sr., MB, Landisville, Pa.
Dougherty tied a career-high with 15 kills in Friday’s match against American and added 11 more in Saturday’s win over Navy to keep the Raiders in a third-place tie with Lehigh. She averaged 3.00 kills per set and hit .312 for the week.
KYLEIGH McAHREN, BUCKNELL Sr., RSH, Napa, Calif.
McAhren tied her season best with 15 kills as Bucknell posted a 3-1 win Friday over Navy to avenge a five-set loss in Annapolis, Md., earlier this year. She hit .277 for the week and averaged 3.10 kills per set. Her four blocks and two aces against the Mids were also season highs.
HANNAH GRACE STOKES, HOLY CROSS Fr., S, Atlanta, Ga.
Stokes averaged 8.17 assists and 4.00 digs per set as the Crusaders went 1-1 in League play last week. She posted two double-doubles, including 29 assists and 14 digs in a 3-0 win over Lafayette.
Patriot League Notebook
DOUBLE HONORS FOR CRUM
It was a banner week for Juliana Crum. The sophomore outside hitter was named Molten Patriot League Player of the Week for the first time in her career after a stellar outing in three victories for American, which moved within a whisker of its 11th consecutive appearance in the Patriot League Tournament. It was her third weekly award from the League of her career, as she was a two-time rookie recipient a year ago. Crum’s notoriety increased Tuesday when she was named the National Player of the Week by CVU.com. She became the first from American and the second player from the League honored by the website. Army’s Ariana Mankus was also named the National Rookie of the Year by CVU.com back in 2009.
AMERICAN, ARMY SET TO CLINCH
The task is simple for American and Army this weekend. A victory for either puts them into the Patriot League Tournament, with the Eagles aiming for their 11th straight appearance since joining the League in 2001. Army, which owns the longest active streak of appearances in the four-team field, is shooting for its 13th consecutive bid. Both teams have two League contests before their rematch Nov. 5 at Bender Arena in Washington, D.C., and neither can afford to look too far ahead to that showdown. The Eagles won the first meeting in five sets at West Point, rallying back from a 2-1 deficit.
PUPIL OVER THE TEACHER AGAIN
Army, led by head coach Alma Kovaci, scored another victory against Lehigh over the weekend to secure the season sweep of the Mountain Hawks. It was the second meeting of the regular season between Kovaci and her former coach Bob Bertucci, who mentored her while she was a student-athlete at Temple. Bertucci is in his first season guiding the Mountain Hawks.
ROLLING A SEVEN
Army freshman Mary Vaccaro garnered her seventh Molten Rookie of the Week honor Monday, breaking the previous record of six set by American’s Rebecca Heath in 2008. Vaccaro is also now the first player in League history to be named to the accolade in three straight weeks two separate times in the same year. The Rookie of the Week honor was first established in 2001.
NO REPEAT WINNERS HERE
Meanwhile, Juliana Crum’s naming to the Molten Player of the Week award makes her the ninth student-athlete in nine weeks to garner that nod. The award was first established in 1990 and ran through 1994, before being replaced in 1995 by the Offensive Player of the Year. It was re-established in 2001. The accolade has never not had a repeat winner, and the last time nine different student-athletes were recognized in the first nine weeks of the season was, in fact, 1994.
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 are 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.
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.
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.