The Eagles knock off UMBC Retrievers 3-1 in first conference match
Freshman Adelina Berisha contributes season-high 21 kills
The American University volleyball team took on UMBC last Friday night in Bender Arena. Coming off of a three game win streak against AU’s local rivals, the Eagles faced their first conference game against the Retrievers.
Despite their hometown wins, the Eagles were not ready to rest on their laurels.
“Every game we don’t go in thinking we’re going to win, we go in knowing we’re going to work hard for that win,” freshman Adelina Berisha said.
AU started off strong with a kill from graduate student Carlie Fikse. However, neither the Eagles or Retrievers could establish the lead, tying 14 times in the first set.
The Eagles were able to push ahead with two service aces and kills from seniors Zeynep Uzen and Onuchi Ndee and win the first set 25-22. Uzen led the set with five kills and Berisha contributed four kills.
The second set continued the close competition of the first, with 21 ties and 13 lead changes occurring. UMBC was able to establish a four point lead over American at 19-15.
However, the Eagles were able to get themselves back in the game and tie the Retrievers 20-20. AU was able to escape a UMBC set point before having three of their own, yet the Retrievers fought back and held off a victory for American.
With a powerful solo block from Berisha, the Eagles were up 28-27. The Retrievers retaliate with a three point streak and shut the Eagles down 30-28 in a hard fought set.
Set three began with an impressive performance from Berisha, gaining the Eagles three of their first four points. The set was tied 13 times, with AU chasing after UMBC’s lead.
The last tie between the teams was 22-22, when a Fikse-Berisha block gave the Eagles a set point and a kill from senior Inbal Peleg finished off the Retrievers 25-23. Berisha led the set with seven kills and Uzen added five for the Eagles.
The competition remained fierce in the fourth set, with nine ties happening before the Eagles took a five point lead they were able to hold for the rest of the game. UMBC fought back at the end with their own five point run, causing the teams to meet at 23-22.
“We came into the huddle and said, ‘We are going to persevere and do what needs to be done,’” Berisha said.
The Eagles did exactly that. American pulled off a victory after two attack errors from the Retrievers gave AU a 25-23 win and a 3-1 match victory.
Berisha attributed American’s win to how well the team pulled together. “Good chemistry is one of the most important things to have on the court. It produces something as awesome as four wins in a row.”
The Eagles hit .252 to UMBC’s .171 and had 69 digs to the Retrievers’ 56. Berisha hit .306 and totaled a season-high 21 kills. Uzen posted a second straight double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs. Peleg almost reached a double double with nine digs and 42 assists. Senior Rachael Bennett led the Eagles with 16 digs.
After winning 3-1 at Coppin State this Tuesday, American looks to continue their six game winning streak against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers this afternoon.