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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Eagle

Eagles dominate Army 3-1

Women's Volleyball

Apparently, nobody told Army it was supposed to go down easily to AU in Saturday's volleyball match in Bender Arena. The Black Knights had hit only .131 in Patriot League matches before this weekend, but they defied that statistic Saturday, firing on all cylinders to hit .235. But despite their aggressive offense, and an equal aggressive fan contingent, the Black Knights (15-12, 6-5 PL) were topped 3-1 by AU (15-9, 11-0) by scores of 26-30, 30-14, 30-17 and 30-27. Although AU eventually won three straight games, Army gave the Eagles a post-Halloween scare in the first round. AU led only once as the Knights hit .333. Army's physical front row of Erin Kennedy and Jen Wynn frustrated the Eagles with a pair of blocks. "To be honest, we were a little bit surprised at how well they came out," said senior Karla Kucerkova, who led both teams with 30 kills. "We didn't do our job well because we let them surprise us. We have to be better in anticipating their strong defense and them going for us." The Knights rarely gave easy points to the Eagles. Army had only three errors to AU's nine, something that AU Head Coach Barry Goldberg challenged his team to change before the second game. "It wasn't that they were better than us," Kucerkova said. "We just had to be more careful." The Eagles did just that as they made only one error and hit a big .621 in game two to push Army away from a match victory. The match was played before an unusually raucous crowd as more than a dozen Army fans drowned out the sound of the Screaming Eagles and the AU Pep Band. Kucerkova admitted that the intense atmosphere might have caught the team off guard in the beginning. The team didn't even realize it was trailing by as much as it was because of this, she said. Sophomore Cutrina Biddulph had a solid outing with 16 kills, but when the Eagles fell behind early, Kucerkova took control of the offense to keep her squad on top of the match. Goldberg said he had wanted to spread the offense around early. He wanted starting junior setter Courtney Mulford to pass the ball to Biddulph in the middle. AU's first point of the match instead came off a Mulford assist to Kucerkova on the outside, but Goldberg didn't blame her for the choice. "Part of it is who the setter trusts to put the ball away," Goldberg said. "In this system, how can you not trust [Kucerkova] to put the ball away?" Kucerkova will gladly take every pass she can get. She now needs 72 more to pass Natasha Sylvain's 1,660 as the school's all-time kill leader. With five matches remaining in the regular season, Kucerkova can pass the mark if she continues at her current pace of 5.4 kills per game. AU also smashed Holy Cross Friday 3-0 (30-12, 30-24, 30-8). The Crusaders (6-18, 3-8) hardly put up a fight as they hit a paltry .057 and made 19 errors. Kucerkova had 13 kills to lead the Eagles, who hit .513.


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