AU defends undefeated record against rival GW at Bender blue out
Legendary Coach Barry Goldberg reaches 800 career wins
The energy in Bender arena on Saturday night could be felt from a mile away. A sea of blue covered every inch of the bleachers, with nearly 2,000 fans in attendance to watch the American University volleyball team take on their cross-town rivals.
Coming off of a Saturday afternoon sweep against the George Mason Patriots, the Eagles were ready for round two. This time, AU was looking to maintain its undefeated record against George Washington University at the 14th annual Bender blue out.
Head coach Barry Goldberg did not want to let his team’s recent victories take away from the games ahead of them. “Every game you play is new. We have to find out who our opponents are and how to be successful against them every game.”
With a serve from GW, the match between the Eagles and Colonials had begun. George Washington started off strong, gaining an early lead of five points over the Eagles.
However, GW’s lead did not last long. AU’s mascot, Clawed Z. Eagle, led the Blue Crew student section in cheers to keep the energy in favor for their team. “It’s the best feeling ever. That energy helps us win games” senior Inbal Peleg said.
AU kept the momentum going, going on a five point run, including two kills from senior Zeynep Uzen, to close out the Colonials and win the first set 25-21.
The second set started with energy and an early six point lead for the Eagles. However, the Colonials were not ready to let AU run away with the game. GW fought back from their deficit and tied the game up at 17-17, before pulling away to win the second set 25-21.
The third set began neck and neck, with AU and GW fighting for the lead. The Eagles regained their dominance and grew a 10 point lead, including spectacular contributions from Uzen, senior Onuchi Ndee, Fiske, Peleg and junior Katie Putney, American secured the third set with a score of 25-16.
“The mentality of ‘we are not giving up no matter what the scoreboard shows’ and ‘we are doing this for each other’ is what helped us come back,” Peleg said.
The close competition between the Eagles and Colonials carried into the fourth set, with 13 ties and six lead changes. American grew a small lead over George Washington, almost ending the set at 24-21. However, GW was not finished and went on a 4-0 run to bring the score to 25-24. Freshman Adelina Berisha took the game into her own hands, and with three consecutive kills, the Eagles successfully fought off the Colonials for their third consecutive win.
The win was also the 800th career win for legendary coach Barry Goldberg. In his 34th season, the head coach of the Eagles is an AU Athletics Hall of Famer, a 10-time Coach of the Year and ranks fourth among active NCAA head coaches in career wins.
‘Tonight was just remarkable. It felt great,” Goldberg said.
The victory and milestone accomplishment for Goldberg was celebrated by confetti and balloons with his team, family and friends.
“We want to win for something that’s bigger than us. We want to win for all the people that are here,” Peleg said.
The Eagles will next face the UMBC Retrievers on Friday night. AU is currently 3-0, and will be looking to defend their undefeated record once more at Bender arena.