Volleyball triumphs at Columbia Invitational
Following a weekend of defeats at the hands of high level competition in Hawaii, the women’s volleyball team reversed its fortunes in New York. The Eagles strung together three straight three-set victories to go undefeated at the Columbia Invitational.
The Eagles (6-4, 0-0 PL) ended their four-game losing streak by defeating Northeastern University 25-15, 25-20, 25-15 on Friday night. They continued their winning record by overtaking New Jersey Institute of Technology and tournament host Columbia University 25-13, 25-9, 25-22 and 25-22, 25-23, 25-22 respectively on Saturday.
Senior outside hitter Allison Cappellino earned recognition as the tournament MVP after recording 24 kills and 23 digs for the weekend. Senior setter Monika Smidova and senior outside hitter Kristyna Lindovska joined Cappellino on the all-tournament team
In their first match against Northeastern, the Eagles employed a balanced attack to thwart the Huskies, with five players recording at least five kills. In addition to Cappellino’s ten kills, senior outside hitter Sarah Katz recorded ten kills and ten digs, and Smidova tallied 29 assists and ten digs for the Eagles as well.
AU jumped out to a quick 6-0 advantage in the first set and after a Husky rally brought the score to 6-4, the Eagles never allowed their lead to fall below three points. After falling behind early in the second set, the Eagles used a 6-0 scoring run to take control of the set. The team carried their momentum into the final set and closed out the Huskies for a three-set win.
“I thought overall we played a solid match,” head coach Barry Goldberg said to aueagles.com after the victory. “After last weekend’s matches, we worked on ball control and offense, and that showed well today.”
The Eagles again relied on a balanced attack to defeat NJIT on Saturday. AU received contributions from all 15 players on the roster and capitalized the Highlanders’ 30 attacking errors and nine service errors. Ten Eagles recorded kills and Smidova added 22 assists.
AU ended the tournament with three tightly-contested sets against Columbia, with 19 score ties over the three sets. The Eagles rattled off five of the final seven points to break a 20-20 tie and claim the first set. The final two sets followed a similar pattern, with the teams trading points in the early stages of the set before AU went on scoring runs to close out the set.
Cappellino recorded 12 kills and 15 digs, Lindovska added 10 kills and Smidova contributed 32 assists and 10 digs to lead the Eagles against the Lions.
“In each of the three sets, near the 20-point mark, we made the necessary plays to close out the win,” Goldberg said. “Any time you can be on the road and beat a decent team, it’s an important marker for our team’s future competitions.”
After spending the last two weekends playing tournaments away from home, the Eagles return to Bender Arena to host the AU Volleyball Classic Sept. 18-19 in the final weekend of non-conference play. AU plays William & Mary on Friday night before competing against University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the University of Virginia on Saturday.