Volleyball advances to No. 2 round of NCAA tournament
The Eagles made history when they swept the University of Georgia in the firsts round of the NCAA Tournament for the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
AU’s early and consistent offense combined with its powerful blocking allowed the Eagles (33-2, 15-1, PL) to dominate the Bulldogs (22-10, 11-7, SEC).
The Eagles were off to great starts after each set. They opened the first game 4-0, with two kills from junior outside hitter Kristyna Lindovska. The Bulldogs kept fighting and were able to keep the game within one point at 7-6. However, AU was able to match every Georgia run and did not drop its lead once.
AU jumped to an even more spectacular start in the second set. The Eagles opened the game with seven straight points, forcing the Bulldogs to call timeout. Though Georgia scored after the timeout, AU was already in control of the game and only continued to push its lead. The Eagles ended the second set 25-13 on a kill by junior setter Monika Smidova.
The third set was similar to the previous two with the Eagles opening the game 6-1. The Bulldogs were able to close the lead 8-5, but the Eagles came right back with 9-1 run that put them up 17-6 and forced a Georgia timeout. AU was relentless, coming out of the time out on a 5-1 run that forced a second Georgia timeout. The Eagles finished the Bulldogs off 25-11.
AU’s defensive presence was led by its effective blocking. AU notched 8.5 blocks in the match compared to Georgia’s one block.
Two players ended with double-digit stats. Smidova posted the sole double-double of the match with 14 digs and a game-high 37 assists. Senior outside hitter Juliana Crum added 10 kills to the Eagles’ effort.
The Eagles held Georgia .054 hitting percentage during the match, including a -0.059 hitting percentage in third match. Conversely, AU averaged a .299 hitting percentage in the match. Senior middle blocker Morgan Hendrix posted a game-high .529 hitting percentage with nine kills on 17 total attempts and no errors.
The Eagles will face the winner of the match between Duke University and the University of Charleston on Dec. 7 at Duke.