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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
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First team Patriot League selection Kennedy Etheridge plays in a game in 2017. 

AU beats Patriot League rival Navy 3-2 Sunday

AU beat Navy last fall to claim the team’s 15th Patriot League championship title

The AU women’s volleyball team beat Navy on Sunday in a five-set match in Bender Arena. The game was an intense back and forth battle as the two teams met again for the first time since last year’s Patriot League championship, when AU beat Navy to take the conference title.

Since Saturday’s game was postponed due to a power outage in Bender, the result of a electrical fire on campus, the team last played a match over a week ago. Nonetheless, the Eagles entered Bender Arena with high energy.

AU (8-9, 3-0 PL) started strong in the first set, in the lead at 25-19 before the Midshipmen pushed back in the second set, winning 27-29. This tug-of-war continued as AU took the third victory 26-24 before Navy prevailed in the fourth, topping AU 25-20. AU proved triumphant in the fifth and final set, breaking the tie with a score of 15-8 to win the game.

The fifth set began with a kill made by junior outside hitter Aleksandra Sochacka and ended with one crucial play: a block made by junior middle blocker Jeanne Westney, ending the game.

Junior libero Kristen Largay entered the match only 10 digs away from moving into the fourth spot on the Eagles’ career list. Largay added 22 after today’s match, rewarding her the spot on the career list and bringing her total to 1,224 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Helena Elbaek had 20 kills, while senior outside hitter Aleskandra Kazala closely followed with 12. Both teammates hold their positions as statistical leaders, having the highest kills per set: Kazala with 3.45 and Elbaek with 2.45.

“They’re a good team, they play hard,” head coach Barry Goldberg said about the Navy Midshipmen. “Navy has been the leader in the league with us and so that was a big fifth set, and now we’ll stay in front by just a little.”

Goldberg said AU did not play how they wanted to in the second and fourth sets, although he thought that his team played well in the first game.

Having played Navy while competing for the Patriot League title, Goldberg said, “It’s been a back and forth, but they’re not only our cross-town rival. We have a lot of respect for them.”

AU will play at home again for a match against Holy Cross at 7 p.m. Friday in pursuit of more personal and team-wide achievements as they move farther into the season.

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