AU volleyball clinches regular season Patriot League title with weekend sweeps
Straight set victories over Lehigh and Colgate help the Eagles earn the top seed in PL tournament.
For the third season in a row, the road to the Patriot League volleyball championship will go through Bender Arena. AU clinched its 13th regular season title in the past 15 years by virtue of its 25-18, 25-17, 25-18 victory over Lehigh University on Friday night. The Eagles added a second weekend victory when they defeated Colgate University 25-17, 25-15, 25-18 Saturday afternoon to remain unbeaten in Patriot League play.
Senior outside hitter Allison Cappellino led the way for AU Friday night with 13 kills and 13 digs, and fellow senior outside hitter Kristyna Lindovska recorded nine kills and 15 digs of her own. Lindovska also recorded her 1,000 career kill in the victory against the Mountain Hawks (17-12, 9-5 PL). She has recorded a double-double in two of the last three matches for AU and has tallied three consecutive matches with double digit digs.
“One of the things working for Kristyna is she is seeing the court really well,” head coach Barry Goldberg said. “She’s seeing the [defending] players pretty well and seems to be hitting the open spots. Her vision is working pretty good for her to see the shots, and even more, she is executing.”
The Eagles (24-6, 15-0 PL) utilized a balanced attack and a strong block presence to overwhelm Colgate. Freshman outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala recorded 13 kills and 11 digs, and freshman middle blocker Carmen Unzue tallied 10 kills and three blocks assists. Lindovska recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs, and Cappellino added nine kills and four digs for the Eagles.
“Ola [Kazala] certainly had a nice match, Carmen [Unzue] as well, that’s a big lift for us” Goldberg said after Saturday’s victory. “Cappellino and Lindovska just continue to roll. We had everyone here on target here today. We had a good flow with what we were doing.”
As a team, the Eagles finished with an kill percentage of .411 against the Crusaders (10-15, 8-6 PL) with four players, Unzue, Lindovska, Kazala and senior setter Monika Smidova finishing with hitting percentages above .400. AU held Colgate to a team hitting percentage of .139 and capitalized on 17 Crusader attacking errors.
Entering the weekend, AU held a two-game lead over second-place Army with three matches to play by virtue of a season sweep against the Black Knights. AU’s victory over Lehigh mathematically eliminated Army from contention for the regular season crown, granting the Eagles the right to host the Patriot League tournament Nov. 21-22.
Since entering the Patriot League in 2001, all 12 of the Eagles previous Patriot League tournament titles have come when they hosted the tournament.
Army, Lehigh and Colgate have also clinched spots in the tournament, with Army locked into the two-seed.
AU wraps up regular season play this Friday Nov. 13 at home against Loyola University. with the chance to finish the Patriot League season unbeaten for the sixth time under Goldberg. The Eagles last went undefeated in Patriot League play in 2010 playing two fewer conference matches.