Eagles rally back against Retrievers on weeknight matchup

AU gains momentum late, holds off UMBC 3-1

Eagles rally back against Retrievers on weeknight matchup
#14 Allie Burke sits atop Division 1 for blocks in a single game for her 12 block performance against UMBC.

In front of a rowdy crowd, the American University volleyball team (4-3, 0-0 PL) defeated the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1-7, 0-0 America East) on Tuesday in Bender Arena.

With this week’s win, the Eagles extended their lifetime dominance over the Retrievers to 21-3 since their first meeting in 1989. UMBC’s last victory over AU was in 1996.

AU went into the game trying to rebound off a tough weekend road trip in North Carolina where they went 1-2. They entered Tuesday’s game still looking a little rocky and dropped the first set to UMBC. 

Going into the second set, the arena came alive along with the team. As the Eagles went back and forth with the Retrievers, fans wielding school flags and a big head cutout of AU head coach Barry Goldberg cheered throughout a very even set. UMBC held the lead until late in the set when the Eagles rallied to finally overtake the Retrievers. AU came out on top in the second set and looked to carry that momentum with them throughout the rest of the match.

The Eagles began the third set dominating, opening with a 3-0 run. It looked like AU finally had control of the match after a tough opening. However, the Retrievers managed to come back and tie it 20-20 before the Eagles managed to end off a tired UMBC squad to take the third set and the lead 2-1.

Into the fourth and final set, AU clearly held the game in their hands. The Retrievers held on for as long as they could, trailing by less than 3 points for most of the set, but one final run by the Eagles to go up by 5 late in the fourth sealed the match. AU took the fourth and final set when junior Asli Celikkol had an impressive block around the net to send the Retrievers home, winning the match 3-1.

Celikkol's impressive performance against UMBC helped carry AU to victory. She led the entire match in kills with 15, also putting up 6 blocks. Sophomore Allie Burke also had a stellar game, leading the match with a career-high 12 blocks. Burke’s outstanding achievement also put her atop the entire NCAA for most blocks in a game this season on a Division I team.

Other notable statistical leaders included senior Fanny Ahman, who finished with a career-high 18 digs, and juniors Zeynep Uzen and Inbal Peleg, who finished with their third and fourth double-doubles of the season, respectively. 

Celikkol said post-game that, after a tough weekend tournament at the Aggie-Spartan Invitational in Norfolk, North Carolina, the mentality going into the match was that the team wanted to “show everyone who we actually are.”

Burke agreed with Celikkol, saying that since it was a home game, the Eagles really wanted to “go win this at our court, just play fun, play loose, play volleyball.”

Goldberg said the win over UMBC was great, especially coming right off a long weekend in North Carolina. “That’s how it goes, up and down a little bit,” Goldberg said post-game. “We’re happy with tonight for sure. It was a good win.”

The Eagles are now above .500 on the season sitting at 4-3. “We needed that,” Burke said. “It’s really good for us.”

The Eagles return to Bender Arena on Sept. 17 to face no. 11 ranked Oregon at 7 p.m. ET.

apowers@theeagleonline.com

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