Army Hosts Lafayette and Navy For Dig Pink and Star Match This Weekend

Sophomore Setter Vanessa Edwards

Sophomore Setter Vanessa Edwards

Oct. 10, 2013

WEST POINT, N.Y.  - The Army volleyball team hosts Lafeyette and Navy this Friday and Saturday, respectively, as the Black Knights look to improve their second-place Patriot League standing. Fans are encouraged to wear pink for Friday's 7 p.m. match against Lafayette in support of Dig Pink for breast cancer awareness. Army will honor its alumni during Saturday's 7:30 p.m. "Star Match" versus Navy.

Playing its fifth and sixth conference matches, respectively, the Black Knights enter this weekend with a 7-8 overall record and a 4-1 Patriot League mark. Army is tied with American for second place, behind unbeaten Colgate (4-0). The Black Knights have authored a 3-3 record at Gillis Field House this season.

Lafayette enters the weekend tied for seventh place (1-4) in the Patriot League standings with Holy Cross. Navy has lost its last two matches and holds the number five spot in the league weekly standings. The Midshipsmen will go up against Holy Cross on Friday, Oct. 11 before traveling to Gillis Field House on Saturday.

Offensively, Army is coming off a season-high .320 hitting percentage in last week's victory over preseason favorite American. Freshman middle blocker Olivia Fairfield, named Molten Patriot League Player of the Week on Monday, ranks third in the league with an average hitting percentage of .337. Senior co-captain outside hitter Margaux Jarka also earned accolades on Monday as the AAA Athlete of the Week. Jarka is coming off 15 and 17 kills versus Loyola and American, respectively.

Junior Mary Vaccaro and sophomore Vanessa Edwards have divvied playing time at setter this season, working as one another's compliment. Vaccaro ranks third on the conference individual leaders chart, while Edwards rounds out the list at the number 10 spot.

Senior middle blocker Megan Wilton is back in action and proving to be an offensive force at the net averaging .68 blocks per set. Wilton, the first volleyball player to receive AAA Athlete of the Week honor this season, has racked up 94 kills in 11 match appearances.

Army opens the weekend at Lafayette, a team it has enjoyed much success against in recent history. In 45 meetings between Army and Lafayette since 1979, the Leopards have won just four matches. Lafayette's last win over Army came at the 1995 Patriot League Tournament. Since then the Black Knights have won 30-straight matches.

Lafayette is coming off of a 3-1 win over Bucknell last Sunday, Oct. 6, for its first Patriot League victory of the season. The Leopards were led by senior outside hitter Karissa Ciliento and freshman outside hitter Jet Manzi who each recorded double-doubles.

In its series with Navy, Army has won 22 of the last 26 contests, including 13 of the last 14 meetings. With its recent success, the Black Knights now hold a commanding 41-10 record over its Navy adversaries. Of all the varsity sports that both schools compete in, the Army volleyball team has compiled one of the highest winning percentages against the Midshipmen.

Army recently swept the Mids in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Black Knights have never lost more than two straight matches to Navy and are currently riding a five-match win streak against their rival, including a 3-1 decision in last year's "Star Match" win on Sept. 22 in Annapolis, Md.

Navy's offense is anchored by senior outside hitter Erin Fortner, who ranks second in the league for kills and was named the Patriot League's preseason conference team earlier this season.  Fortner is accompanied by sophomore outside hitter Olivia Yeager and sophomore middle hitter Katie Sylakowski, who have each recorded double figures in matches this season.

Knight vision will cast both matches this weekend, while live stats will also be available. Fans are encouraged to follow @Army_Volleyball on Twitter for real time match updates.

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