Bucknell stuns AU volleyball, split series to start season

Senior Helena Elbaek moves closer to 1,000 career kills

Bucknell stuns AU volleyball, split series to start season
AU volleyball's Helena Elbaek in a March 7 match against Bucknell.

American University volleyball fell to Bucknell Sunday night, losing in five sets with scores of 22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21 and 11-15. The Eagles’ loss to Bucknell was its second-ever loss to the program and its first since 1996. As the figurative doormat of the Patriot League for the past decade, Bucknell has had an in-conference record of 47-107 since 2010.

Despite the historical loss, AU’s seniors put forth solid efforts. Senior Helena Elbaek had an impressive K:D ratio, with 21 kills and 17 digs. She now needs just 15 kills to reach 1,000 for her career. Senior libero Chiara Bosetti tied Elbaek with a team-high of 17 digs.

In addition to the seniors, the sophomore tandem of Asli Celikkol and Inbal Peleg had a dynamic night. Celikkol had 13 digs, three blocks and eight kills, while Peleg messed around and recorded a double-double with 20 assists and 11 digs. Junior transfer Carlie Fikse led the team in blocks with seven and only committed a single error.

The loss comes two days after the Eagles handily defeated Bucknell in the season opener, 3-1. Head coach Barry Goldberg believes the team is still finding its footing.

“Great job by Bucknell and their effort to make things tough on us,” Goldberg said. “Attacking and defense were fairly even, but they were just a little better tonight. Our team is forming and we had many emotional moments that we did not control very well. We knew from Friday's match that they were playing hungry, and this was the result. We will regroup and see what we can do to make our team more complete.”

While the Eagles played with heart, issues with hitting and errors ultimately made the difference. The Eagles came out strong, taking a 20-15 lead on the first set, but couldn’t close it out as they finished on a 10-2 skid. The second set was suspenseful and the Eagles managed to pull it out despite 10 ties and five lead changes. Momentum was in favor of the Bison for the rest of the match, as they out-hit the Eagles .279 to .136. The Bison's Delanie Lewis ended the match with a kill in the fifth set, giving Bucknell the 3-2 win. 

The Eagles will get a shot at redemption soon. The second weekend of play finds the Eagles hosting Lafayette on Friday night, March 12, and traveling to face the Leopards again on Sunday, March 14.

odunn@theeagleonline.com

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