Electric atmosphere fuels Lehigh’s 3-1 home win over Penn


BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Lehigh volleyball team put together another exciting performance in front of the Grace Hall faithful on Tuesday night, downing Penn in four sets (25-21, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20) to snap a three-match losing streak right before the start of Patriot League play over the weekend. Outside hitters Megan Schulte (18) and Hannah Wright (15) combined for 33 of the Mountain Hawks’ (3-7) 61 kills on the evening, with Schulte adding 10 digs.
The Mountain Hawks put together a fantastic final two sets, hitting .357 and .393, respectively with only seven errors to Penn’s 17.
“It was definitely an exciting match for us tonight,” said head coach Alexa Keckler. “The crowd was great and offensively we started to make some real connections, which was awesome to see. I think the last couple of matches we had, we have been neck and neck and haven’t been the ones to come out on top, so most of all, I’m really proud of how our girls played.
“When it came down to the wire and they were pushing, we were able to bottle in and be able to grab those last few points and take care of business.”
Lehigh put together an impressive first set to come away with the advantage early on, as the Mountain Hawks led from the fourth point of the set on to take three of the last four and the 25-21 victory.
An early second set lead was in the cards for Lehigh, as the team took control from the get go and with a 10-10 tie, took seven of eight points to take a comfortable 16-11 lead. However, Penn went on a 14-6 run to close the set to earn a three-point victory.
The final two sets were electric as the Mountain Hawks dominated from both pins, led by the outstanding play of Schulte and Wright, along with contributions from Sabrina Lancaster and Emily Stewart. Set 3 was neck and neck throughout, but it was the Mountain Hawks who battled and pushed through, winning seven of the last 10 including three straight on two Penn match points to win 27-25.

The Quakers fought to keep things close in what became the final set of the evening, but the Mountain Hawks went on an 8-3 run led by three major kills from Stewart to get the 25-20 victory and match win over Penn.
While Schulte and Wright led Lehigh statistically, Stewart finished with 10 kills and five blocks. Lancaster added eight kills, hitting .353, while Lylah Washington had six. Freshman setter Makena Smith registered 49 assists with 12 digs and five blocks to pace the team, while sophomore libero Ally Thaw had a team-high 17 digs with six assists.
Wright hit .455, Schulte hit .302, Lancaster hit .353 and Stewart hit .350 as the Mountain Hawks hit .293 as a team for the evening.
“It absolutely was a great hitting night overall for us,” Keckler said. “One of the things we talked about as a team all weekend was about the flow and spread of our offense and it was great to see Emily (Stewart) get connections, she had a great match tonight. Hannah (Wright) didn’t have many errors. They just played smarter offensively than we have to start the season so I’m excited for all our girls. They’ve been working really hard to get over that hump and tonight was a great effort by a lot of individuals. A complete team effort this evening.”
Lehigh out-blocked Penn, 13-4, while the Mountain Hawks out-dug (63-59) the Quakers and finished with more assists (56-40).
The Mountain Hawks begin Patriot League play Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup at Colgate in Hamilton, followed by a 7 p.m. meeting at defending league champion Army West Point Saturday night at 7 p.m. as well.
“I think we need to enjoy this win and tomorrow, take a look at those things that we struggled with over the last couple days,” Keckler said. “We’ve got to be ready to be aggressive and limit our unforced errors and if we do that, I think we’ll be ready to compete with those teams.”
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