AU volleyball finishes the regular season with an undefeated Patriot League record
The Eagles earned their 16th conference victory with a 3-0 win over Loyola University Maryland.
AU entered Friday night’s match against Loyola University Maryland as the regular season Patriot League champions, but the team still sought an additional accomplishment: an undefeated season. After a 25-21, 25-10, 25-15 victory over the Greyhounds, AU became the first team in Patriot League history to record 16 regular-season league wins in a season. This year also marks the first time since 2010 that the Eagles have gone undefeated.
The Eagles now look ahead to the Patriot League Tournament next weekend at home in Bender Arena where they will face off against Colgate in the semifinals on Nov. 21. The championship game will be held on Nov. 22.
Before the game, the Eagles honored the storied careers of five seniors; setter Monika Smidova, outside hitters Sarah Katz, Megi Dervishi, Allison Cappellino, and opposite hitter Kristyna Lindovska.
“The seniors influenced not only this season but these seniors, all five of them, have been through the last years of our program making a historic run two years ago to the Sweet 16,” head coach Barry Goldberg said
Each senior received a frame with pictures of their various accomplishments over their AU years. The most notable departure will be two-time Patriot League setter of the year and 2014 Patriot League Player of the Year Smidova.
“We’re already trying to figure out what are we going to do when these guys leave, but we’ll stay in the moment and play as long as we can with these players.” Goldberg said “And if we can make another big run and get to a few weekends into the NCAA Tournament that would be an incredible feet. But right now we’re still on Patriot League time and we’re looking forward to next weekend to see if we can defend our title as Patriot League Champions.”
Smidova finished the game with 28 assists and four kills. In one of those kills, Smidova gracefully jumped and caught the Greyhounds off-guard, spiking the ball instead of setting to her teammates. The Greyhound responded too slowly for the block, creating a trend that lasted throughout the night.
Cappellino led the Eagles with eight kills and seven digs while freshman outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala continued her hot streak with seven kills and two digs.
As a team, the Eagles finished with 37 kills and 11 service aces.
The Eagles and the Greyhounds played a tight first set with eight ties and three lead changes before the Eagles closed out the set. In the second and third sets, Loyola only led a handful of times before the Eagles completed their perfect Patriot League season.
Loyola Maryland entered the match with the worst record in the Patriot League and were outmatched by AU’s height, speed and strength. Goldberg said he looks forward to moving into post-season play and hopes his team will build on the skills they showed against the Greyhounds as the Eagles seek another NCAA Tournament run.
“Everything we’re still looking to improve on. Now we’re to the playoff time. If we don’t keep improving the season is going to be over before we want it to be,” Goldberg said.