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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Volleyball begins Patriot League play, goes 1-1 at home

Junior libero Elizabeth Flynn serves during the Leopards’ victory over Holy Cross. (Photo by George Varkanis for GoLeopards)

Last Friday saw the 2023 Patriot League season commence for the women’s volleyball team when it faced the Holy Cross Crusaders at home. The Leopards entered the game riding a two-game winning streak having beaten Penn and NJIT in their last two matches.

The match, played at Kirby Sports Center, started off fast with the Leopards and Crusaders battling to a 10-10 tie in the first set. Sophomore outside hitter Carol Ulichney stole the show, posting 13 kills and winning the important point to tie the score 24-24. She then continued this impressive play with a kill to wrap up set one 26-24 for the Leopards. 

The second set was very similar with both teams looking promising and keeping the score within four points throughout the set. Eventually, the Leopards pulled away, with senior middle blocker Gracie Gibson recording back-to-back kills to bring the second set to a close by a score of 25-18. 

Despite Holy Cross claiming the third set 25-22, its efforts would be no match for the Leopards, with the fourth set finishing 25-21 thanks to an ace from junior libero Elizabeth Flynn. Throughout the evening, the team hit .286, with Ulchiney and first-year outside hitter Emma Patmon combining for 29 kills. 

“It was our first conference game, so that is always going to come with a little bit of nerves, but we really stuck together and engineered a win,” junior libero Carson Grace Toomer said.  “[Defense] is a great way to frustrate our opponents. If we can make improbable digs and convert those digs to offense, we can really put pressure on the other team and stack points.”

Throughout the match, the Leopards recorded eight blocks, as well as only 25 errors in a total of 145 attempts. 

Saturday gave the Leopards a chance to build off of their first win of the Patriot League season, as they faced Army at home. Army entered the match off of a two-game win streak, most recently beating Bucknell to start their Patriot League season with a 1-0 in-conference record.

Initially, the match appeared to mirror the Holy Cross game, but the Black Knights quickly began to pull away. 

“[I believe] we had the energy, effort and overall court demeanor to win, but after halfway through the first set, Army got on a few serving runs and it was hard to come back,” junior outside hitter Phoebe Glass said.

The Leopards started flat, losing the first set 15-25 despite Glass recording five kills and one dig. This seemed to be the theme of the evening, as the Leopards fell in the second set by the same score.

There were not any glimpses of hope for the Leopards, with Army’s strong defense proving hard to penetrate. The third set wrapped up the evening, with the Leopards falling 20-25 and Army leaving College Hill with a win in straight sets.  

In spite of the result, the players are still optimistic about future Patriot League success.

“[Losing will] help us dial in on what we truly need to work on,” Glass said. “Patriot League play moves quickly, and [we are] really determined.”

The team will remain in Easton for the next two games, continuing its Patriot League season tomorrow at 7 p.m. against the Bucknell Bisons for its alumni game. The team will then face rival Lehigh on Sunday at 4 p.m. with Glass urging the Leopard fans to “come out, support and pack Kirby Sports Center.”

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