WEST POINT, N.Y. - Sophomore duo Ariana Mankus and Francine Vasquez hit better than .300 and combined for 32 of Army's 46 kills to lead the Black Knights in a convincing 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-21, 25-20) of visiting Colgate in Patriot League volleyball action on Saturday afternoon at Gillis Field House.
Mankus enjoyed a monster outing in which she completed her 10th double-double of the season with 19 kills and 18 digs. The Lisle, Ill., native hit for a .350 percentage with just five errors on the match. Vasquez totaled 13 kills and hit .310 with four errors. Both Mankus and Vasquez contributed two blocks apiece.
Senior S Karyn Powell led all players with 37 assists. She added 11 digs to record her fifth double-double (assists, digs) of the season and first since Patriot League play began. Powell also chipped in with three kills and two block assists. Powell aided freshmen RS Margaux Jarka and MB Megan Wilton in totaling six and four kills, respectively.
"I was really proud of the way Karyn (Powell) ran the offense today," said two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. "Of course, you can't say enough about the effort of Ariana (Mankus) and Francine (Vasquez) today. When they are both on, they are a duo to be reckoned with. What's great about it is that it allows us to reverse the ball and attack from both sides."
Senior L Brittany Jensen bolstered the Army defense with a season-high 20 digs. Freshman MB Megan Forbes contributed three block assists as the Black Knights put up seven total blocks. Army out-dug Colgate by a 67-59 margin and held the Raider offense to a .160 attack percentage. Senior OH Logan Keala represented Colgate's top hitter with 10 kills.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how this weekend went," said Kovaci."Two great matches and two great wins back-to-back. Today was a huge accomplishment for us because Colgate is a very tough, balanced team. This win was truly important and gives us some confidence.
"What I see the most is that our offense is clicking. Our transition game has really picked up and our chemistry is building. We're out-digging opponents and that's something that is very beneficial for us."
Saturday's victory, coupled with a 3-0 win over visiting Bucknell on Friday night, improved Army (13-10) to 5-1 in Patriot League action. The Black Knights sit in sole possession of second place with their lone blemish coming to top-ranked American (19-2, 7-0 PL), which swept Lehigh Saturday afternoon to finish the first half of Patriot League action undefeated.
The match entertained just nine ties and five lead changes through the entirety of all three sets. Five of the nine ties occurred at the start of the first set as the teams played back-and-forth out of the gate. Army broke a 5-5 tie with a key 8-2 run to pull ahead by a 13-7 score as Mankus teamed with junior MB Rachel Willis to block Colgate's Maureen Colligan. The Black Knights went on to maintain the lead from there despite a late Raider push. Holding a 20-16 victory, Army gave up a 3-0 Colgate run as the Raiders pulled to within one (20-19) on a block. Coming out of an Army timeout, Kovaci's club responded with a 5-2 run to close the set (25-21).
Colgate came on strong to open the second session, establishing a commanding 7-2 lead on a block from Logan and Kaylee Dougherty. Army chipped away from there and benefited from the consistent serving of Vasquez and freshman OH D.J. Phee to author a 10-3 run and take a 12-10 lead. The Raiders collected the next point to make it 12-11, but the Black Knights would not let Colgate get any closer the rest of the way. The Raiders inched to within two (19-17) heading down the home stretch, but a Vasquez kill on the next point ignited a 6-4 Army run to close the set. Powell put the exclamation point on the set (25-21), helping herself with a second-hit kill.
Army fell into a 4-1 hole early in the third frame, but again rebounded with a 6-3 run to level the score at 7-7 on a Wilton kill. Consecutive Mankus kills two points later highlighted a 10-3 Army run that put the Black Knights on top by a 17-10 score. Mankus enjoyed three more kills during the decisive spurt, while Vasquez capped it with a crosscourt kill deep into Colgate's defense. Army led by at least four from there as Mankus provided a fitting end to the afternoon with a kill from Powell (25-20).
Saturday's match marked the end of a four-match homestand for the Black Knights and the end of the first half of Patriot League play.
"Half of the Patriot League schedule is over now and I like where we are," Kovaci said. "Our freshmen aren't playing like freshmen and the team as a whole is showing improvement every time we step on the court. Being young, that's the beauty of it."
Army hits the road for the next two weekends, beginning with a trip to the Lehigh Valley next weekend to take on Lafayette on Friday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. and Lehigh on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m.
Match Notes: Army swept its fifth Patriot League opponent of the season ... Army has now won three matches in a row ... the Black Knights committed just 14 errors in 125 attempts to hit .256 on the match ... junior co-captain Rachel Willis played for the first time since Aug. 27 against Fairleigh Dickinson ... she has been hampered by injury all season ... Ariana Mankus averaged 4.83 kills and 4.00 digs per set over the weekend ... Francine Vasquez averaged 4.33 kills per set and hit for a .385 percentage over two matches ... Karyn Powell averaged 12.50 assists per set over the course of two matches as well.