Eagles claim 14th Patriot League title
Kazala, Largey and Etheridge named to All-tournament team as AU defeats Colgate
The AU women’s volleyball team trailed Sunday afternoon 18-14 in the fourth set after dropping the third to the Colgate Raiders when head coach Barry Goldberg called a timeout to calm his players down. The Eagles won 11 of the match’s next 14 points to win 25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 25-22 and capture the program’s 14th Patriot League tournament championship, clinching a spot in the 2016 NCAA volleyball tournament.
“I saw our team start to get a little bit shaken by [Colgate] leading in game four,” Goldberg said of the timeout decision and the message given to his team. “I said have some fun [and] go after this; if you don’t go after it, you’re never going to get it. They [the players] made some winners by the end and it got us through.”
Sophomore outside hitter Aleksandra Kazala was named the Patriot League Tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by freshman libero Kristen Largey and sophomore setter Kennedy Etheridge.
The Eagles’ opponent in the first round of the NCAA Tournament will be announced during the NCAA Volleyball Selection Show Nov. 27 at 9:00pm. The Eagles are making their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Kentucky in the first round of the 2015 tournament.
Second seed Colgate controlled play early in the match and took a 12-5 lead after the Raiders scored seven consecutive points off the serve of junior outside hitter Corrina Moncada. The Eagles responded with seven consecutive points off the serve of Kazala to regain momentum and won the set behind strong attacks from freshman outside hitter Shannon Webb and junior middle blocker Loren McKenzie.
AU never fell behind in the second set and the strong offensive performances of Webb and Kazala allowed the Eagles to gain a two set advantage. Kazala finished with nine second-set kills while Webb contributed three.
“I thought both outsides, Ola Kazala and Shannon Webb both were really strong and that’s what got us to through game two,” Goldberg said.
The Eagles opened up a 21-14 lead in the third set, but were unable to close out the Raiders. Senior outside hitter and First-Team All-Patriot League selection Kathleen Harris recorded six consecutive points on her serve to tie the set for Colgate and senior outside hitter Katie Stebbins recorded two kills and a block assist on the final three points to win the set for the Raiders.
“We started out with a lead [in the third set] and were playing really well but we just started missing a few [shots],” Goldberg said. “They [Colgate] were serving us tougher and blocking more balls and caught us off balance.”
The Raiders carried the momentum into the fourth set and led for the majority of the set until the Eagles rallied to close out the match.
Kazala finished with 20 kills for the Eagles, Webb added 14 kills and 11 digs and McKenzie and senior outside hitter Julita Kurdziuk contributed eight kills each. Etheridge recorded 52 assists, 11 digs and six kills while Largey finished with 24 digs.