AU volleyball beats Loyola in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament

The five-set thriller sends the Eagles to the semifinals

AU volleyball beats Loyola in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament

Behind junior Zeynep Uzen’s 22 kills and graduate student Chiara Bosetti’s 35 digs, the fourth-seeded American University volleyball team closed out fifth-seeded Loyola University Maryland to advance to the semifinals of the Patriot League tournament. 

Heading into the match, AU held an 11-5 record in the Patriot League, while Loyola held a 9-7 record.

AU has never missed the Patriot League semifinals since joining the league in 2001 and has won 16 of the last 20 Patriot League titles. To preserve the semifinal streak, Uzen recorded 22 kills for the second consecutive game and finished one dig shy of posting her 14th double-double of the season. 

“We need to bring more heat and energy on the court, and I think we found that,” Uzen said post-game.

Tuesday’s action was the first game following both Uzen’s and senior Carlie Fikse’s selections to the All-Patriot League teams. Uzen was selected to the first team, while Fikse was selected to the second team.

In the first set, AU and Loyola traded leads back and forth early on until Loyola pulled ahead. Trailing by five, Uzen led an attempted Eagles comeback with a clutch hit and serve as AU clawed back, but ultimately the Eagles lost the first set 25-22.

AU tied the match with a strong rebound in the second set. The Eagles started the second set with a 4-0 lead, and although Loyola managed to briefly take the lead at 19-18, a clutch ace by Bosetti and two huge late Fikse hits finished off the set for AU 25-23

However, the Eagles’ momentum halted, and Loyola comfortably took the third set 25-18, despite Bosetti’s defense keeping the Eagles in it and nearly sparking an AU comeback at set point.

On the brink of elimination, AU came out swinging in the fourth set and led by as many as nine points en route to a powerful 25-18 set victory. Fikse stifled a late Loyola comeback attempt with a powerful block, and AU moved into the fifth set energized to close out the Greyhounds. 

AU set the tone early in the 15-point fifth set with a tip from Fikse, and the Eagles rode this momentum to an emphatic 15-7 victory. A huge block from Esma Sipahi sealed the game, avoiding a first-ever first-round out for AU and pushing the Eagles to the Patriot League semifinals.

Head coach Barry Goldberg said the Eagles now have their sights set on Lafayette in the Patriot League semifinal game.

“[We’ll] take it one match at a time, one set a time, a few plays at a time, and keep trying to make adjustments,” Goldberg said.

The Eagles will face second-seeded Lafayette Saturday at 7 p.m. at Colgate University.

Should the Eagles win against Lafayette, they hope to capture their 17th Patriot League title against the winner of Navy vs. Colgate.

sports@theeagleonline.com 

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