Oct. 13, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Junior outside hitter Margaux Jarka paced Army's offense with 10 kills, while the Black Knights collective defense helped spur a 3-0 Patriot League victory over Lafayette at Gillis Field House. Homecoming descended upon West Point this weekend as Army gave its many alumni in attendance a reason to cheer in the 25-14, 25-14, 25-23 win.
Along with Jarka's 10-kill, eight-dig effort, senior outside hitter Ariana Mankus added nine kills and as many digs. Setters Mary Vaccaro and Vanessa Edwards contributed 22 and 12 assists, respectively.
Junior libero D.J. Phee tallied a match-high 23 kills to anchor Army's defense, which held the Leopards to a -.026 hitting percentage. Rookie middle blocker Zoe Kreitenberg aided the cause with a team-high four total blocks.
"I'm proud of the team for being able to close out the third set," said sixth-year head coach Alma Kovaci. "I thought our defense was the story today. D.J. Phee did a tremendous job digging up anything that came at her. Tonight was also a chance for us to get some new and younger players in the lineup for some valuable match experience."
Army (14-6, 6-1), which maintained a hold on second place in the Patriot League standings, hit for a .200 percentage and extended its win streak to three matches.
"It feels great to close out the weekend with a win," Jarka said following the match. "It was a total team effort. Our serving and passing were both solid. Everybody got involved, and our middles really got in the game and helped propel us to tonight's victory."
The Black Knights made a statement early, riding the serving of Vaccaro and Mankus to an 8-1 lead to start the opening set. Army cruised from there, not allowing the Leopards to get closer than nine points the rest of the way. A Kreitenberg kill gave the Black Knights a 22-10 lead, but Lafayette retaliated with four unanswered points to pull within 23-14 late. The Leopards ended the set with back-to-back errors.
Phee and Edwards' serving consistency helped Army to an early 9-3 advantage. Army more than doubled-up Lafayette, 14-6, on a Kerry Horan kill midway through the action. The Black Knights continued to roll and led by at least seven points the rest of the way.
The most competitive of the match, the teams played through nine ties and three lead changes in the third frame. Lafayette took a 5-2 lead out of the intermission, but Mankus and freshman Nicole Perri sandwiched kills around an Edwards service ace to tie the score at 5-all. The score seesawed from that point as neither team led by more than four the rest of the way. Kovaci called her first timeout of the set with the score tied, 23-23, and her team responded with the necessary two points to finish the sweep.
Lafayette's Kaitlynn Zoller and Brianne Giangiobbe paced the Leopards with seven kills apiece.
Army closes out the home portion of its Patriot League regular-season with a highly anticipated weekend ahead. The Black Knights host rival Navy on Friday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. Less than 24 hours later, Army welcomes defending champion American to Gillis Field House for a 4 p.m. match on Saturday, Oct. 20. The Black Knights beat both teams in the first meeting of 2012 earlier this season.
A webcast of both matches next weekend will be available via Knight Vision. Real-time updates will be offered through GameTracker (live statistics) and @Army_Volleyball on Twitter.
Game Notes: Freshman middle blocker Kaili Crow earned her first career start ... she recorded three kills and hit .333 on the night ... Army recorded its 29th-straight win over Lafayette ... the Black Knights improved to 8-3 at Gillis Field House this season ... Army has swept its last three opponents and is 9-2 in three-set matches this season.