Volleyball opens Patriot League play with victory
Eagles overcome offensive struggles to defeat Bucknell in three sets
Despite a poor offensive night, the AU volleyball team held off the Bucknell Bison 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 to win their 28th consecutive Patriot League match at Bender Arena. The Eagles (10-6, 1-0 PL) hit .183 offensively and committed 18 attacking errors, both numbers that concern head coach Barry Goldberg.
“Our error number  is too high. That’s a problem, that’s why our number percentages [were low],” Goldberg said. “We have traditionally been a team that can hit about 0.250-.300, and we hit .183 so the percentage attack was too low.”
While their offense struggled in the first two sets, the Eagles’ front row produced 11 blocks to hold Bucknell’s (2-11, 0-1 PL) hitting percentage below 0.100 in each of the first two sets.
“[The first sets] were them making errors and us giving points back,” Goldberg said. “We did a great job blocking, the block really made a difference in the first two sets.”
The Eagles fell behind 6-2 early in the first set and did not register their first kill until sophomore outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala powered a shot down the line to tie the set at 7. Bucknell led the set 19-17 before the Eagles recorded five straight points on the serve of freshman setter Samantha Snyder to take momentum of the set.
The Eagles’ attack began the second frame more efficiently, helping AU build a 12-6 lead. A combination of kills from Kazala and freshman outside hitter Aleksandra Sochaka and attacking errors from the Bison allowed the Eagles to take their biggest lead of the set at 21-13. AU struggled by committing service and attacking errors, but ultimately closed out the set after Bucknell setter Luz Nagle was penalized for a double contact.
Both teams improved offensively in final set, with AU reaching a hitting percentage of 0.256. Kazala and freshman outside hitter Shannon Webb each recorded 4 kills in the final frame to help the Eagles close out Bucknell. Kazala finished the match with 10 kills and 11 digs and Webb added 10 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore setter Kennedy Ethridge recorded 29 assists, five digs and four kills for AU.
AU was limited to an eight player rotation, with junior middle blocker Loren McKenzie the only upperclassmen to take the court for the Eagles.
AU had a quick turnaround, returning to Bender Arena today at 2:00 p.m. to take on Patriot League foe Lafayette.
“We have a similar kind of team [in Lafayette],” Goldberg said. “We’re going to have to start attacking the ball with a better arm, because we were out of control with the arm a little bit [tonight].”