Rebecca Heath led the top-seeded AU volleyball team to a four-set victory over the No. 4 Colgate University Raiders Nov. 19. The win at Bender Arena propelled the Eagles to the Patriot League Tournament finals.
Heath, the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, totaled a game-high 14 kills to go along with 12 digs on the afternoon as the Eagles (22-10, 13-1 PL) won by set scores of 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 and 25-17.
The victory marks AU’s 19th straight win in home conference tournament matches.
The pivotal moment of the match came when AU won the third game and took back the momentum after Colgate (12-18, 8-6 PL) won the second set. The second-set victory marked only the third time the Raiders had taken a set off AU in three matches this season.
“The turning point was in game three when we were in a close battle and our setters got opportunities for our hitters to hit some really good balls,” AU Head Coach Barry Goldberg said. “We were able to make a few more kills than we were able to in games one and two. It really paid off for us.”
Colgate started with a 10-9 advantage in the third game, but the Eagles won eight of the next ten points. Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Year Sara Rishell highlighted the stretch with three kills, as the freshman tallied eight kills and a game-high nine block assists on the afternoon.
“We definitely stepped up on blocking,” Rishell said. “We didn’t really have a great hitting day, but we stepped up defensively so I think that’s what really made the difference.”
AU won the last four points of the third game off a Rishell kill and three kills from Juliana Crum, an All-Patriot League First Team selection.
Crum recorded a double-double with a game-high 15 digs coupled with 12 kills, while Alexandra Hammer earned a team-high 23 assists.
Monika Smidova, who earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors, also had a productive day for the Eagles with 18 assists and 11 digs.
After the third game, the Eagles cruised in the fourth and final set to an eight-point victory. AU hit .407 in the final set while making only a single attack error.
The momentum shifted AU’s way in the last set after they trailed 9-7 and went on an 11-3 run to pull ahead 18-12. The Eagles capitalized off six Colgate attack errors and never let the Raiders back within three points for the rest of the set.
The Eagles will face the second-seeded Army Black Knights Nov. 20 in the Patriot League Championship, as they try to win the tournament for the 10th time in 11 years. Army defeated No. 3 Lehigh University in straight sets in the tournament’s other semifinal.
“It feels awesome to make the Patriot League Championship and keep the legacy going,” Eagles freshman Megan Rosburg said. “But we just got to win one more and we’ll make the NCAA Tournament.”