WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army volleyball team rallied from a slow start in the opening two sets to sweep visiting Lafayette, 3-0, in Patriot League action on Saturday afternoon at Gillis Field House. Freshman OH D.J. Phee led all players with 10 kills, while the Army defense held Lafayette to a -.010 hitting percentage on the match.
Lafayette held the lead throughout much of sets one and two, but the Black Knights rallied to take the sessions by 25-22 and 25-21 scores, respectively. Army crushed the Leopards, 25-10, in the third set to secure the match. Army improved to 9-8 overall and 2-0 in Patriot League play, while Lafayette fell to 4-11 on the season and 1-1 in conference action.
"I am very proud of the way the team fought through some offensive adversity, especially in the first two games," said two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. "They fought through and did not give up. I was very happy with the way we came out and played more to our potential in the third game. Give credit to Lafayette. They came to play and proved to be a gritty, tough opponent to close the weekend."
Freshman MB Margaux Jarka, who was one of three rookies in Saturday's starting lineup, finished with nine kills and a .318 attack percentage. She recorded a season-high 12 digs and a pair of blocks. Sophomore OH Ariana Mankus totaled eight kills and 10 digs, while Phee led all players with 17 digs.
The teams played back-and-forth over the first points of the match. A Lehigh service ace gave the Mountain Hawks a 16-13 lead midway through the action. Senior S Karyn Powell's second-hit kill ended the run, but the Leopards continued to hold Army at arm's length. Lafayette led 20-18 when Army made its move, using a 7-2 run to close the set. The Black Knights took advantage four Lafayette errors with Phee at the service line. Mankus ended the set with a kill, 25-22.
Lafayette cruised to a 7-2 lead when Kovaci called timeout. Lafayette continued to hold at least a three-point lead through the midway point. Army trailed 16-9, but the Black Knights came roaring back thanks in large part to the serving consistency of freshman MB Megan Forbes. Army went on a 10-2 run, which included kills from Mankus and a pair from senior MB Amanda Rowell, to take a 19-18 lead. The teams played through three ties with the final coming at 21-21. Phee recorded back-to-back kills as Army finished the set with four unanswered points.
Army came out of the break on fire, rolling out to an 8-1 lead on a Lafayette miscue. Powell served for five of Army's eight points during the surge. The Black Knights maintained control from there, holding at least a four-point lead.
Patriot League play continues for the Black Knights next weekend as they travel to American on Friday at 7 p.m. and rival Navy on Saturday at 7 p.m. Saturday night's service academy match-up will serve as the annual "Star Match" between the two programs.
Match Notes: Freshmen MB Margaux Jarka, MB Megan Wilton and OH D.J. Phee were all in the starting lineup ... sophomore S Alicia Dotson played all three sets, primarily in the serving game ... Army defeated visiting Lehigh, 3-1, on Friday night.