Sept. 5, 2015
AKRON, Ohio –– Balance on offense in one match and equal balance defense in the other led to the Navy volleyball team posting a pair of four-set victories Saturday at Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. The Mids defeated Canisius by scores of 25-22, 25-21, 23-25 and 25-12, then recorded a 26-24, 25-12, 12-25, 25-21 win over Saint Francis U.
“One of our goals entering this week was to improve at competing,” said Navy head coach Larry Bock. “We saw that today.”
The first match saw six different Mids tally at least seven kills to help them defeat the Golden Griffins (1-5). Leading the Navy offense was Olivia Kluger (So., Carmel, Ind.) with 10 kills, while Rachel Fortner (So., Villa Hills, Ky.) added nine kills, 18 assists, seven digs and two blocks. Darby Minton (Fr., Chino Hills, Calif.) keyed the defense with 15 digs and accounted for five of Navy’s 12 service aces.
That balance on offense led to the Mids hitting a season-best .300 in the match while limiting Canisius to a mark of .183. Navy also held a 52-42 edge in kills and a slim 12-9 advantage in aces.
“None of the blockers were able to dedicate to one hitter,” said Bock of the offense. “Both of our setters (Fortner and Patricia Mattingly [Fr., New Albany, Ind.]) did a good job of finding the right people at the right time.”
The second match for the Mids (2-4) saw four different players tally 10 or more digs against the Red Flash (2-6). Fortner’s 14 digs paced all Navy players, while Kluger snared 10 digs and Minton added 10. Having a strong game on both offense and defense was Maggie Phillips (So., Leesburg, Va.) with 14 kills and 12 digs. Additionally on defense, Allison Latham (Jr., Merrimack, N.H.) recorded three solo blocks and four blocks in all.
Navy as a team hit over .200 in each of its three set wins and closed the match with a .210-.134 advantage over Saint Francis in hitting percentage. The Mids also led the Red Flash in kills, 48-39.
“Picking up more digs from the middle-back position is something we have wanted for awhile,” said Bock. “Maggie, Olivia and Maeve Drummey (Sr., Silver Spring, Md.) were good back there today.
“We have a few veterans –– if sophomores can be called veterans –– who need to have broad shoulders. Maggie and Olivia had those broad shoulders for us today. They came through big at important times.”
Navy will play four matches at home over the next week. That stretch starts with a Wednesday night match against Air Force and continues with the Kristen Dickmann Invitational Sept. 11-12. The Mids will play George Washington on Friday before taking on Texas Tech and Maryland on Saturday.
“We did see improvement today,” said Bock, “but we still have a long road to travel for improving to the level we want and need to reach. It was nice to see us respond to poor third sets in both matches by putting together strong starts to the fourth set. We were able to redeem ourselves a bit both times.”