Sept. 4, 2015
AKRON, Ohio –– Akron staved off a pair of late rallies by the Navy volleyball team in the second and third sets to defeat the Mids in three sets Friday night at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. The host Zips (2-3) posted a 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 win over the Mids (0-4).
“This was a winnable match that we did not win,” said Navy head coach Larry Bock. “We played better today than we did last week, but it still was not as good as we need to be.” Akron used a 9-2 run to take a 19-14 advantage midway through the first frame. The Mids fought back to within 19-17, but the Zips scored the ensuing two points to extend their lead on their way to winning the set, 25-20.
Navy had good balance in terms of ball distribution, but struggled with being able to put the ball down. Maggie Phillips (So., Leesburg, Va.) and Olivia Kluger (So., Carmel, Ind.) combined for nine kills and one attack error on 17 swings for a .471 hitting percentage in the set, while the remainder of the team tallied four kills and four attack errors on 18 attempts for a .000 percentage.
The Mids quickly jumped out to a 6-1 lead at the start of the second set. The Zips slowly chipped away at the margin and soon took a 15-14 lead, then eventually used a 5-1 spurt to take a 21-18 advantage. Navy winnowed the deficit down to one point at 21-20, but back-to-back kills after an Akron timeout made it a three-point margin. Kluger promptly notched a kill and an ace to made it 23-22, then after an Akron kill (24-22) Tara Dotzauer (So., Raleigh, N.C.) posted a kill for the Mids to stave off one set point and lead to another Akron timeout.
Allison Latham (Jr., Merrimack, N.H.) responded with a kill for the Mids to knot the score at 24-24, but she committed an attack error on the ensuing play to give the Zips a 25-24 lead, after which Bock called a timeout. A kill by Dragana Miccic following the stoppage gave the Zips the second set.
Six different Mids notched at least one kill during the second set and Navy trailed Akron in the overall kill tally by just four through two sets of play. However, the Zips led the Mids in blocks, 6-0, through two frames.
“We really were getting beat in blocking,” said Bock, “especially in the first two sets.”
Akron would use a 6-1 run to take a 12-6 lead on Navy in the third set. The Mids were able to close to within three points of the Zips at 20-17, then made it a two-point gap at 23-21 and 24-22 before a kill by Hannah Hirzel (Fr., Fullerton, Calif.) pulled the Mids to within 24-23. After an Akron timeout, Amanda Bedell recorded a kill for the Zips to end the match.
“Bad things were happening at crunch time for us,” said Bock. “There are things we can do to solve that, though. Gains were made throughout the night.”
Akron totaled 42 kills to Navy’s 41, but a 9-3 edge in blocks allowed the Zips to hold a .260-.225 advantage over the Mids in hitting percentage.
Individually, Kluger notched 11 kills and a .391 hitting percentage, Phillips totaled nine kills and three of Navy’s seven service aces, Hirzel ended the night with eight kills and a .538 attack percentage and Latham contributed six kills and hit .500. Defensively, Darby Minton (Fr., Chino Hills, Calif.) grabbed 16 digs while Rachel Fortner (So., Villa Hills, Ky.) posted 10 digs to go along with her 13 assists.
“It is really clear that Olivia is rising to the occasion,” said Bock. “She was really tough out there. Our freshman libero (Minton) is growing up fast. She continues to get better in each and every match. Both Hannah and Allison had good hitting numbers. It was nice to start to see Rachel come around (after starting the year with an injury). She is still nowhere near close to playing at the level where she will eventually be once she is fully healthy, but getting her back to even this level is a big plus.”
Micnic’s 11 kills led the Zips, while teammate Kelsey Wilson had 10 kills and hit .643.
Navy will remain in Akron overnight and play a pair of matches Saturday against Canisius (10 a.m.) and Saint Francis U. (4:30 p.m.). Links to live stats from both matches will be available at NavySports.com.