Army Clinches Patriot League Tournament Berth

Molly McDonald


Molly McDonald

Nov. 3, 2012

Final Stats

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Junior outside hitter Margaux Jarka led all players with 11 kills while hitting for a .364 percentage to pace the Army volleyball team in a 3-0 road win over Bucknell on Saturday evening at Davis Gym. The Black Knights had already clinched a Patriot League Tournament berth earlier in the day, securing the spot following a Lehigh win over Navy on Saturday.

Army will be making its conference record 14th-straight Patriot League Tournament appearance, which is set to be played on Nov. 17-18 on the campus of the highest seed. With an 9-3 league record, Army (18-8) remains in a two-way tie with defending champion American for second place in the current standings. Colgate, which edged the Black Knights 3-2 last night, sits alone in first place with an 11-1 conference mark. Bucknell dropped to 9-18 overall and 3-9 in Patriot League play.

"I'm so proud of the team as a whole," said sixth-year head coach Alma Kovaci. "We've had to battle some injuries throughout the season and are still young at some positions. They rose above both of those and are growing every day. We extended the season by at least another weekend, and we couldn't be happier."

Jarka's 11-kill effort made her the only player to reach double-figures in kills. Senior co-captain Francine Vasquez and freshman middle blocker Zoe Kreitenberg added nine kills apiece. A day after recording a career-high 30 kills at Colgate, senior co-captain Ariana Mankus totaled seven kills and a team-best 12 digs.

Army's offense reached the .300 or better mark for the fourth time this season, hitting for a .318 mark. Sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro's 33 assists were 24 more than any other player during the match.

The Black Knights' defense racked-up 42 digs to go with seven blocks, while holding the Bison to a .035 team hitting percentage. Along with Mankus, junior libero D.J. Phee recorded double-digit digs with 10. Sophomore middle blocker Molly McDonaldled all players with four blocks.

Army made a statement early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the early going of set one. The Black Knights lead grew to 16-6, forcing Bucknell to use a timeout midway through the action. A McDonald kill and block, along with Jarka's service ace helped expand the margin to 10 points. Army cruised from there, collecting a 25-12 opening-set victory.

The Black Knights continued to click on all cylinders, scoring the first three points unanswered to start the second set. This time, however, Bucknell did not back down and remained within striking distance. After the Bison closed within 6-5 in the early going, Jarka's kill sparked a 3-0 Black Knights run as they pushed ahead, 9-5. Army later stretched its lead to 16-11 as Jarka and McDonald teamed-up to block Bucknell's Hannah Young. The team held the lead from there and ended the set with a 25-11 victory.

Coming out of the intermission, Army scored 10 of the first 14 points to establish early momentum. The Bison pulled within five points, 11-6, but the Black Knights retaliated with five unanswered points to jump ahead 16-6 midway through the action. A pair of McDonald blocks sandwiched Vaccaro's second kill of the match to highlight the decisive stretch. Bucknell would not recover as the Black Knights completed the sweep with a 25-11 triumph.

Army plays its final two matches of the regular season on the road, visiting Lafayette (Nov. 9) and Lehigh (Nov. 10) next weekend. Fans are encouraged to stay up-to-date on all things Army volleyball by following @Army_Volleyball on Twitter.

Match Notes: Army improved to 28-13 all-time against Bucknell and completed a regular-season sweep of the Bison ... Army holds a 12-3 record in three-set matches this season ... Margaux Jarka reached double-digit kills for the 13th time this season and third match in a row.

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