FAIRFAX, Va. – After losing the first match of the day, the West Virginia University volleyball team came back to defeat Navy 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-18), Saturday at the George Mason Recreation and Athletic Facility.
The Mountaineers (3-3, 0-1 Big 12) had a team season-high hitting percentage of .389 and 10 total team blocks against the Midshipmen (1-4, 0-0 Patriot League) as WVU bounced back from a season-low hitting percentage of .073 against South Carolina to go 1-1 in the first day of The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational.
“We need to continue to do a better job of managing our errors,” coach Jill Kramer says.” We did a better job then we have from the service line today and we served pretty tough. We are still high in the error category, but it was much improved with managing that and how well we were taking them out of system.
“It just comes down to the serve and pass game in general. We didn’t take care of the ball on the pass against South Carolina and it really affected our offense. Those are two things that we really talked about following that match and that we really need to take care of that part of our game.”
WVU had a strong offensive first set as the Mountaineers recorded a season-high .481 hitting percentage. Tied 5-5, the team used kills from freshman middle blocker Caleah Wells
to start a run. A service ace by junior outside hitter Arielle Allen
at 20-15 caused Navy to use its first time out. WVU would not let the Midshipmen close the gap as the Mountaineers closed out the set on a 5-3 run.
A strong opening in the second set gave the Mountaineers a 4-0 lead with kills from sophomore middle blocker Evyn McCoy
and freshman outside hitter Hannah Sackett
. Navy attempted to close the gap, but a duo serving run from freshman setter Brittany Sample
and Sackett contained the Midshipmen and gave WVU the advantage to take the second set 25-18.
Navy came out in the third set and capitalized on WVU errors to take an early 8-5 lead, but an ace from McCoy and kills from Wells put the Mountaineers back in the lead. WVU never looked back as they took the final set and the match.
“It was really important that we got refocused for Navy,” Kramer says. “We managed our serve and pass game much better. We still missed some, but we had a few more aces this time and hit a really high clip. We only had nine hitting errors the whole match and Nikki (Attea) had eight blocks total. It was a good performance.
“Monique (Kemp) and Elzbieta (Klein) got in the match because we had to get them some on-court experience. We made some changes in the libero position and Karly is playing some back row now, so we have gotten into a groove with that too. I felt like we were really calm and composed for the match and that helped us in the end. We played better team ball this afternoon.”
Sackett led the Mountaineers in kills for the fourth time this season with 12 and also hit a season and career-high .556 hitting percentage. Wells and McCoy chipped in six and eight kills, respectively, each recording a .500 hitting percentage.
WVU will wrap up the invitational tomorrow when it takes on tournament host George Mason at 1 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
“For tomorrow, we need to do the same thing,” Kramer says. “We need to take care of the serve and pass, manage our swings and play great volleyball out of system. Our defense has picked up 100 percent and that has been a good thing for us. If we can just manage the serve and pass and our attacking, we should be good to go tomorrow.”