Women jump to 2-0 in PL
Freshman Elizabeth Maloney entered Saturday evening's Women's Volleyball match against Lafayette with hardly any offense to her credit. That changed by the end of the night.
The outside hitter pounded out three kills, including the match winner, to push the Eagles (5-8, 2-0) easily past the Leopards (5-10, 0-2) 3-0 (30-13, 30-19, 30-20).
AU senior Karla Kucerkova led all players with 17 kills and recovered 10 digs. Junior Jessica Tuthill continued to improve in her first start this year as defensive specialist with 10 digs. Senior Sabrina Vasconcelos distributed 30 assists to keep the Eagles offense potent.
Leopard freshman Veronica Canto-Ponce, who was recruited by AU, led Lafayette with nine kills.
Maloney started in the back row in place of sophomore Cuttrina Biddulph in practice this week. Coach Barry Goldberg said she was adjusting well to the position and had raised her intensity level. It was clear from Saturday's match that Maloney's play in practice translated well into the game situation.
"We'll give her some more chances and see how she looks," Goldberg said of future chances for Maloney to shine.
The freshman notched her second and third career kills to end the match. She elevated on the front left side for both plays to cleanly blast the ball through the defense. Those flashes of skill proved that the newcomer could play a vital role in the AU offense.
The Eagles ran to an 11-3 lead in the first game by capitalizing on mistakes made by the young Leopard squad. Lafayette, which has struggled to compete in the Patriot League, played a scrappy defense but could not overcome the early deficit.
Lafayette opened the second round with a 4-1 lead behind two blocks and a kill from Canto-Ponce. AU pulled even and the squads stayed close until Kucerkova took control of the game, earning five kills in a 13-1 run that gave her team a 23-9 lead.
AU used a pair of offensive runs in the third game to go ahead 15-8. Lafayette stuck around to net sporadic points, but Maloney's two kills to end the game sent the Leopards packing.
The Eagles hosted Lehigh earlier in a rare Thursday match. They edged the Mountain Hawks, (9-7, 1-1) despite early sloppy play, 3-1 (28-30, 30-19, 30-23, 30-25). Biddulph was the bright spot for the otherwise mediocre Eagles, hitting .424 with 17 kills.
Junior Natacha Cornaz dressed for Saturday's match but didn't play. Goldberg said she injured her right ankle last week against Michigan State and aggravated it Thursday against Lehigh. She could return for this weekend's road trip to Holy Cross and Army, he said.
Junior setter Courtney Mulford also didn't play Saturday. Mulford was named Second Team All-PL last season but has seen less time this year. Goldberg said he was playing Vasconcelos more at setter because she can run a faster offense, but that Mulford will be back this fall.