WEST POINT, N.Y. - Freshman MB Megan Wilton and sophomore OH Ariana Mankus led all players with 16 kills apiece to pace the Army volleyball team to a 3-1 win over visiting Lehigh in the Patriot League opener for both teams at Gillis Field House on Friday night.
The Black Knights took the first two sets by identical 25-22 scores before Lehigh (6-7, 0-1 PL) forced a fourth set with a 25-23 victory in the third. Army (8-8, 1-0 PL) raced out to an early in the fourth and hung on for a 25-19 win to seal the match.
Mankus completed her eighth double-double of the season with 11 digs, while sophomore OH Fabiola Castro amassed season-best 15 digs to lead the Black Knights. Senior S Karyn Powell led all players with 45 assists. Wilton hit for a team-high .462 percentage with just four errors in 26 attempts. Mankus high .243.
The first three sets were played tightly and featured 26 ties and nine lead change throughout. Army took control early in the fourth and never relinquished.
The teams played back-and-forth to open the match. Army used a modest 3-0 run midway through to build a 17-13 edge on a solo block for senior MB Amanda Rowell. Lehigh remained on Army's heels down the stretch, but the Black Knights were able to hold at least a two-point advantage from there. A Francine Vasquez service ace gave Army a 22-18 lead and prompted a Lehigh timeout. The Black Knights got a pair of kills from Mankus and another from Wilton to help seal the set.
Lehigh jumped out to an 11-7 lead to open the second set. Coming out of a timeout from Army head coach Alma Kovaci, the Black Knights rattled off seven of the next 10 points to level the score at 14-all midway though. Consecutive kills from Castro and Wilton gave Army a 16-14 lead that it would not relinquish. Lehigh would tie the score twice more, but Army hung on for the win to go ahead 2-0 in the match.
As the third set got underway, Army was on its way to clinching the match after establishing a 15-10 lead following a 9-2 run. The Mountain Hawks proceeded to score nine of the next 13 points to tie the set, 19-19, on a Courtney McCutchan kill. The teams played through three more ties with the final coming at 23-23 thanks to a Mankus kill. Lehigh netted the next two points on Army miscues to force a fourth set.
In the most lopsided set of the match, Army jumped out to a 13-6 lead after back-to-back Mankus service aces. Lehigh would cut the deficit to two (14-12), but the Black Knights used a 6-1 surge to push ahead by a 20-13 score and never look back.
Angelika Kopacz led the Mountain Hawks with 12 kills, while McCutchan added 11.
Army faces its second Patriot League test when Lafayette visits Gillis Field House on Saturday, Sept. 25, for a 3 p.m. start.
Match Notes: Sophomore Megan Wilton was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Monday ... in other action around the league, Holy Cross swept Lafayette, American defeated Bucknell (3-1) and Colgate collected a 3-1 win over Navy.