Top Two Seeds Move On to Patriot League Volleyball Championship Match

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Morgan Hendrix and American are in familiar territory, as the Eagles will play for their 11th Patriot League title in 12 years Sunday at Colgate.
Morgan Hendrix and American are in familiar territory, as the Eagles will play for their 11th Patriot League title in 12 years Sunday at Colgate.

Nov. 18, 2012

2012 Patriot League Volleyball Championship Central

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Keeping with the theme this fall in the Patriot League, the top two seeds advanced past their semifinal battles Saturday in the League’s Volleyball Tournament, setting up No. 1 Colgate hosting second seed American Sunday at 3 p.m. with the 2012 title on the line.

Colgate opened the tournament with a sweep of fourth-seeded Lehigh, while the Eagles, the two-time defending champions, won in four over No. 3 Army.

Previously this fall, the top two seeds also met in the championship contests of the field hockey, women’s soccer and men’s soccer tournaments.

American is aiming for its 11th championship in 12 seasons, and improved to a perfect 12-0 in semifinal contests. Colgate is looking for its fifth League crown and first since 1999. The Raiders also hoisted the trophy in 1996, when they last hosted the field of four.

The two finalists split their regular season series, with Colgate posting a sweep at home in September while American won in four a month later.

The Eagles have won all five previous meetings between the programs in the tournament, including the 2010 title match.

Recaps of each semifinal are below.

No. 1 Colgate 3, No. 4 Lehigh 0

Box Score

HAMILTON, N.Y. – Top-seeded Colgate (16-13) overcame a five-point deficit late in the first set, and used that momentum to sweep fourth-seeded Lehigh (12-14) in the first semifinal of the Patriot League Volleyball Tournament at Cotterell Court.

The Raiders won with set scores of 28-26, 25-22 and 25-15.

The Mountain Hawks had a commanding 23-18 lead and were two points away from taking the early advantage on the host. But Lindsay Young and Michelle McCarthy posted back-to-back kills to make it 23-20, and Lehigh called timeout. Amanda Clark’s kill put the Mountain Hawks up 24-20, but two more Colgate rallies forced another Lehigh timeout.

The Raiders pulled even after two Lehigh errors before the clubs traded points into a 26-all tie. Young and Diane Seely combined for a block, and Young came up with a kill to complete the comeback as the Raiders took the first set 28-26.

Colgate took the early lead in set two, and this time it was Lehigh looking to make a late comeback. Trailing 21-15, the Mountain Hawks rattled off four consecutive points, forcing Raider coach Ryan Baker to call timeout with a 21-19 lead. Kills by Courtney McCutchan and Ana Vrhel brought Lehigh within 23-22, but the Raiders tallied the next two to close out the set 25-22.

Colgate used a 10-1 run to turn a tight 8-7 lead into a commanding 18-8 advantage, and Lehigh was not able to recover. The Raiders closed the match on a 7-2 run to finish off the contest with a 25-15 win in the third set.

Young and McCarthy led all players with 12 kills apiece, while Kaylee Fifer pitched in 36 assists for the Raiders in the winning effort.

No. 2 American 3, No. 3 Army 1

Box Score

HAMILTON, N.Y. – Two-time defending Patriot League champion American found its rhythm a few weeks ago, and that’s been bad news for League opponents.

The second-seeded Eagles (21-9) won their sixth straight overall and eighth in a row against a League foe with a 3-1 victory over No. 2 seed Army (20-9) in the second semifinal match of the Patriot League Volleyball Tournament at Colgate’s Cotterell Court.

American moves on to battle the top-seeded and host Raiders Sunday at 3 p.m. with the Patriot League title on the line.

It was the first meeting in the tournament between two 20-win teams since 2007.

The Eagles won with set scores of 25-18, 24-26, 25-17 and 25-16.

The first set was all American, as it ran out to leads of 9-3 and 11-5 in the early going. The Eagles eventually moved ahead 17-9, which forced the Black Knights to call timeout. Army scored back-to-back points to get within 24-18 but Kelly McCaddin’s kill wrapped up the first set for American.

Army tied the match with a narrow 26-24 victory in set No. 2. There were 19 ties and seven lead changes, but second-team All-Patriot Leaguer Margaux Jarka delivered the set to Army with a pair of kills at the end.

The third set featured a pair of small Army runs, but the second-seeded Eagles used a stretch of five consecutive points to move in front 22-16. The Black Knights got one point back, but American tallied the last three to take a 2-1 set lead.

American used another run, this time a 4-0 stretch, to open a 19-12 lead in the fourth frame. Army inched back within 22-16, but the Eagles again rattled off three in a row to wrap up the set and the match.

Sara Rishell, a first-team All-Leaguer, led American with 16 kills and hit .294, while Kylann Scheidt contributed 39 assists and 12 digs.

Army senior Ariana Mankus wrapped up her remarkable career with 18 kills, giving her 1,563 for her career to rank her sixth all-time in Patriot League annals.