Volleyball outmatched in Hawaii tournament
The women’s volleyball team recently returned to campus after a national tournament in Honolulu with three losses and a taste of high-level competition they may face in the NCAA tournament later this fall.
In the first game of the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, AU was immediately strained, losing 3-0 to No. 25 University of California Los Angeles. The tournament continued to challenge the Eagles, and they recorded a second loss on Sept. 6 against No. 17 University of Hawaii 3-0. Later that day, AU lost 3-1 to University of Iowa.
“We had moments where we competed with every one of these teams, but in the long run, their hitters wore us out,” head coach Barry Goldberg told AUEagles.com “We're playing against some of the top [teams] in the country. They've got to improve their capabilities to try to be competitive with this kind of teams.”
The loss to Iowa marked AU’s fourth consecutive loss. Goldberg said the early season schedule would test his team, according to a previous interview with The Eagle. But he said he looks forward to watching his team rise to the occasional and compete against top-ranked programs.
“We’re going to be challenged, but we’ve got some competitors on our team, and it’ll be a really fun and exciting season for us,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg has traditionally set up a tough non-conference schedule for his team in the early months of the year with the hopes of preparing his athletes for NCAA Tournament competition. In 2014 the Eagles faced third-ranked Pennsylvania State University, eighth-ranked Florida State University and No. 24 University of Kansas in the September Villanova Classic.
In the game against UCLA, AU lost in three straight sets, 19-25, 19-25 and 18-25. The Eagles kept the first set tight until falling behind 19-16 after a UCLA kill, ace and an AU serving error. The Bruins finished the Eagles with a 25-19 match kill by junior outside hitter Jordan Anderson. The second and third matches followed the pattern of the first, an early UCLA lead with AU chasing and ultimately faltering.
Senior outside hitter Allison Cappellino led AU with eight kills and fellow senior opposite hitter Kristyna Lindovska logged seven kills of her own. The Eagles, as a team, out-blocked the Bruins 8-5 but were out-aced 3-0.
Hawaii, the host of the tournament, brought the same level of energy and proved to be just as difficult of an opponent as UCLA. The Rainbow Wahine edged out the Eagles 22-25, 18-25 and 20-25. Cappellino again earned the most kills of the team, recording ten over the course of the game. Freshman outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala earned eight kills and eight digs.
In the last game of the tournament, the Eagles faced Big Ten foe Iowa and finally earned their first set win of the weekend, despite still dropping 3-1 in the game. The Eagles suffered a loss in the first set, 25-15, but rallied back to capture the second set 25-21. Iowa closed out the match with 25-22 and 25-19 wins in the following two sets. Kazala continued her hot streak from the match against Hawaii and collected career-high 12 kills and 13 digs. The double-double is the first of Kazala’s career.
The Eagles travel to Columbia University today to take on Northeastern University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Columbia University in the Columbia Invitation this week. Although the team enters the tournament fresh off a collection of losses, Goldberg said he remains positive about his team’s performance and hopeful for the future.
“We're never happy with falling down, but if we can tighten up our game a little bit, I think we have a chance to be a really good team still,” Goldberg said. “I think we're headed in the right direction, but we're not completely there."
Correction: A previous version of this article misreported the score of the first set in AU's game against Iowa. The Eagles lost the third set 25-15.