Aug. 25, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus' 18 kills, seven of which came in the final two sets, helped to carry Army in a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon at Gillis Field House. The win secured second place for the Black Knights at their own season-opening invitational tournament. Indiana took home the title with a 3-0 tournament record.
The teams traded sets throughout the 3-2 match (23-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-18, 15-13) before the Black Knights rallied from an 8-4 deficit in the fifth frame. Army closed the match on an 11-5 run en route to its second win of the season.
Mankus and junior middle blocker Megan Wilton represented Army on the Black Knights Invitational All-Tournament Team.
"I am so proud of the team's effort and never-quit attitude today," said sixth-year Alma Kovaci. "We found ourselves looking at some pretty significant holes and never gave up. Ariana (Mankus) was brilliant in the fifth set, which is when we needed her most. Stony Brook is a tough team and showed it today. We'll build on this weekend and look forward to continuing to grow as we get deeper into non-conference play.
"A sincere congratulations to Indiana on taking home the title," she continued. "They came all the way out here and it's nice to head back to Bloomington (Ind.) with some hardware. They are a tremendous team and have a bright future."
Mankus' 18 kills marked a season high and complemented 16 digs for her first double-double of the year. Wilton and junior right side hitter Margaux Jarka totaled 14 kills apiece, while Wilton's .321 hitting percentage was a team best mark. Sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro finished the weekend with a trio of double-doubles, amassing 47 assists and 14 digs on Saturday. Junior libero D.J. Phee rounded out a group of three players to reach double-figure digs with 14.
Stony Brook freshman Melissa Rigo, who also earned All-Tournament Team plaudits, led all players with 22 kills.
In a match that featured 26 ties and 13 lead changes throughout, Stony Brook jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 victory in the opening set. The teams played back-and-forth in the early going, but the Seawolves enjoyed an 18-14 lead midway through the action. The Black Knights stormed back, as a Vaccaro second-hit kill tied the set at 20-20. Three more ties ensued before Stony Brook closed the set on a kill and an Army error.
With sophomore defensive specialist Kristen Smeland at the service line, the Black Knights jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the early stages of set two. Despite Stony Brook inching within three several times, Army maintained the lead throughout the second set and tied the match at 1-1 heading into the break.
Stony Brook collected its most lop-sided victory in the third set, scoring 10 of the final 13 points to win 25-19. A Mankus kill midway through gave the Black Knights a 15-14 lead, which they would let slip away in the closing half.
The fourth set was all Army down the stretch, as the Black Knights broke a 12-12 tie with a 13-6 run to force a fifth set. Mankus had a pair of kills during the decisive run, while Army took advantage of untimely Stony Brook errors along the way.
The Black Knights dug themselves into an 8-4 hole as the teams changed sides in the fifth set. Perhaps the change of scenery helped, as Army rattled off 11 of the final 16 points to take the match with a 15-13 fifth-set win. Two of the last three points of the match came thanks to Vaccaro finding Mankus for the kill.
Army is on the road for tournaments over each of the next two weekends. The Black Knights head to the TCU Tournament (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) before taking part in the All-Armed Forces Tournament at the Pentagon the following weekend (Sept. 7-8).
Game Notes: Army opened this weekend with a 3-0 win over Quinnipiac ... the Black Knights fell to Indiana, 3-1, Friday night.
Black Knights Invitational All-Tournament Team
Jordan Haverly, Indiana
Kelci Marschall, Indiana
Morgan Leach, Indiana
Megan Wilton, Army
Ariana Mankus, Army
Melissa Rigo, Stony Brook
Logan Riker, Quinnipiac
Most Valuable Player - Jordan Haverly, Indiana