WEST POINT – In a dramatic five-setter, it was the Army West Point volleyball team taking down service-academy rival Navy, 3-2, to secure the star in the annual Star Series presented by USAA on Friday night at Gillis Field House.
“That’s how an Army-Navy fight should be,” Head coach Alma Kovaci Lee said. “I am very proud of this team for staying calm towards the end. The crowd definitely helped as well. There were people on this team who were like ‘we are not going to lose this game. We are going to get this block right now and we are going to get this dig.’ This team was confident, and they were saying ‘we will’ and not ‘we hope.’”
In an instant classic, the Cadets and Mids traded sets before the Black Knights claimed the Star in a back and forth fifth set 17-15. Navy now leads the Star Series 2-1.
Army (8-4) stormed out of the gate in the first, using strong net play with four blocks to take the first set 25-15. Navy returned the favor in the second set, pulling even with a 25-13 second. That net play was again key for Army in the third as they posted six more. In total, the Black Knights recorded 14 blocks with 25 combined tallies and sophomore Emmy Barnhorst lead the way with 9.
The win marks the team’s second consecutive victory over its rival and improves Army’s all-time record against Navy to 49-16.
The play of the team’s seniors was key to the team’s success in this one as Courtney Horace (14), Sydney Morriss (13) and Allie Strong (12) led the way as the team’s kills leaders. The trio recorded all but one of the team’s kills in the deciding final set.
“The leadership was the difference tonight,” Kovaci Lee said. “There’s a difference in maturity that we have this year and that is key to our success. It’s great to get a Star for the Academy and these girls deserve it. Now it’s time to focus on tomorrow vs. American.”