Sept. 13, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Four teams will play six matches over a three-day span as the Army volleyball team hosts the fifth annual West Point Challenge, Sept. 14-16, at Gillis Field House. The Black Knights welcome Albany, Sacred Heart and Virginia Commonwealth University to the banks of the Hudson for their final tournament before beginning Patriot League play next week.
Looking to maintain momentum after a thrilling 3-1 defeat of rival Air Force last Saturday night at the Pentagon, Army enters this weekend with a 6-4 overall mark and is 2-1 at home. Through 10 non-conference matches, the Black Knights lead the Patriot League in kills (12.78 per set), assists (12.03) and digs (17.47).
Junior middle blocker Megan Wilton currently leads the Patriot League in kills (3.50 per set) and picked up her second Molten Patriot League Player of the Week honor of the season on Monday. A native of Roseville, Calif., Wilton is hitting for a .255 percentage and averages a team-best 1.00 blocks per set. Senior co-captain Ariana Mankus, a preseason all-league outside hitter, lists second on the team averaging 3.22 kills per set.
Sophomore setter Mary Vaccaro, also a preseason all-conference selection, tops the Patriot League with a 10.47 assists-per-set average. She posted a double-double (assists, digs) in three of Army's four matches last week.
Defensively, junior libero D.J. Phee has been a stalwart over the first month of the season. Her 4.92 digs per set lead the league, as Phee comes off a season-high 24 digs in the win over Air Force.
Army opens the West Point Challenge opposite VCU on Friday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. The Black Knights and Rams have met five times since the series began in 1991. The last time the two teams squared off was at the J.H. Oakes Classic, hosted by Army, in 1991. The Rams have a slight 3-2 edge in the all-time series.
VCU enters this weekend sitting on a 9-1 record and having won its own tournament last weekend, dispatching Virginia, Appalachian State and Georgetown along the way. Senior Anett Farkas was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after posting three straight double-doubles. Farkas averaged 2.79 kills, 2.64 digs and 0.64 blocks per set, while hitting .265, in three matches.
The lone match set to be played on Saturday night will feature Army versus Albany at 7:30 p.m. The Black Knights hold a 3-2 lead in the all-time series, dating back to the first meeting in 1978.
The Great Danes are 2-7 on year with three of their losses coming against nationally ranked opponents - Hawai'i, Stanford and Minnesota. Albany collected wins over Miami (Ohio) and LIU Brooklyn at the Minnesota Diet Coke Classic earlier this month. The Great Danes feature a balanced attack with three players averaging better than two kills per set - Sara Pope (2.36), Dunja Prgomet (2.28) and Traci Vandergrift (2.03).
Army rounds out the weekend with a Sunday matinee against Sacred Heart at 1 p.m. The Black Knights are looking to avenge a 3-0 loss to the Pioneers last season in Fairfield, Conn. Army heads into the weekend with an 8-3 all-time record against Sacred Heart in a series that dates back to 1988.
The Pioneers have posted two wins in 2012 - both sweeps over Holy Cross and Dartmouth. After coming off back-to-back Northeast Conference titles, Sacred Heart has struggled this fall with a 2-8 overall record.
Sophomore Alyssa Young's 3.55 kills per set lead the team, followed in order by rookies Karly Shockey (2.58) and Natalie Kridel (2.50), respectively.
GameTracker will be available for all six matches this weekend and is available here. Knight Vision offer fans a webcast of the Army-Albany match on Saturday night. Click here to access.
2012 WEST POINT INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, Sept. 14
11 a.m. - VCU vs. Albany
5 p.m. - Albany vs. Sacred Heart
7 p.m. - Army vs. VCU
Saturday, Sept. 15
7:30 p.m. - Army vs. Albany
Sunday, Sept. 16
10 a.m. - Sacred Heart vs. VCU
1 p.m. - Army vs. Sacred Heart