Volleyball team splits games away

AU Volleyball went 1-2 this weekend at the Zips Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

The Eagles (2-4) scraped by host Akron 3-2 (24-30, 30-27, 26-30, 33-31, 17-15) on Friday. However, they dropped matches 3-0 on Saturday to No. 9 Penn St. (30-19, 30-25, 30-24) and Pittsburgh (32-30, 30-28, 30-19).

Senior Karla Kucerkova stood out in typical fashion for AU, becoming the only Eagle named to the All-Tournament team. She had 52 kills for the weekend, including a career-high 33 versus Akron. That smashed her previous best of 29, which she earned last weekend against Rutgers.

Junior Sabrina Vasconcelos was impressive at setter against the Zips, setting a career mark of 57 assists.

Jessica Tuthill made the most of her second weekend as the team's top libero, scrambling in the Akron match for 17 digs, a best for the junior.

It was a shootout on Friday when AU faced Akron. Akron took the first game from AU before the teams traded wins. The Zips seemed to have the match at hand, up 29-28 in the fourth game, but Kucerkova nailed a clutch kill to keep the Eagles alive.

Sophomore Cutrina Biddulph and junior Natacha Cornaz teamed for a block on the last play to take the game 33-31 and tie the match at 2-2.

The Zips pushed the Eagles to the limit once again in the rubber match, but AU went ahead 17-15 with a Biddulph block and an Akron error to win the match.

That match was the only time during the tournament that the Eagles were able to showcase their power. Their usually potent offense was stifled on Saturday by elite competition in Penn State (7-0) and Pitt (4-2).

Although the last two games of the Penn St. match were close, AU fell behind quickly at the start of each round, which underdog AU could ill afford against the national heavyweights. The Nittany Lions had a .351 attack percentage to the Eagles' .147 and held Kucerkova to nine kills.

Poor hitting also haunted AU when it faced Pitt. AU had only a .159 attack percentage to Pitt's .341. The first two games were tight, but the Panthers brushed by the Eagles 30-19 in the third session to take the match.

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