Eagles fall to Hoyas in Bender Blue Out

Georgetown takes five sets to put AU away

Eagles fall to Hoyas in Bender Blue Out
Eagles fall to Hoyas in Bender Blue Out

The American University volleyball team (2-1) lost to the Georgetown Hoyas (3-0) in the annual Bender Blue Out by a score of 3-2.

Not a speck of color other than royal blue was seen in the stands of Bender Arena for this game, with the seats packed full of students showing up to support their teams at the beginning of the academic year. 

AU’s first set got off to a hot start, with the Eagles going on a 16-9 run to start the game. This flurry of scoring came from four early kills from graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen and three straight service aces from junior setter Esma Sipahi

Later on, Georgetown made a resurgence, outscoring AU 16-6. Even a trading of points in the last rallies of the set was not enough to keep this comeback down, as the Hoyas took the first set by a score of 25-22.

The Eagles stormed back and quickly took the second set 25-16, a dominant affair where AU held the lead the entire time with the exception of one tie. Freshman outside hitter Holly Hopkins contributed five kills in this set, while Uzen notched four more. Junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman also showed out in this set, with two back-to-back kills causing a hurried time out for Georgetown. 

With the crowd erupting at the end of that set, the Eagles looked to carry the momentum into the third set of the afternoon. This set was hard-fought from both sides, with each team trading points up until the end of the set, with a 3-0 run from Georgetown to seal it.

There were five lead changes and 11 ties in this set. Uzen racked up another six kills while Hopkins got her eighth and ninth of the game. The Georgetown set win put the Eagles down two sets to one, with the fourth set being do or die for AU in this contest. 

The first 10 points of the fourth set saw the Hoyas go on a 7-3 run, only to be met back by the Eagles tying it at 10 points. This exchange set the tone for this set, long rallies where both teams had to fight for every point they got. 

Six lead changes and seven ties happened in this set, and the Eagles pulled away late in the set on the back of a service ace from senior outside hitter Maya Mrus and a securing kill from graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse. They won the set 25-20, sending the game to its fifth set. 

AU did not hold the lead at all through this final set, but played admirably from behind to tie the game back up twice. Three more kills from Uzen and Sipahi each were not enough to seal the game for the Eagles however, as Georgetown ended the set with a score of 15-12. 

Uzen collected 25 kills through five sets, a new best for both herself and the team for the season. Sipahi led the team in assists with 46, and junior libero Bridget Javitch led the team in digs with 21. Stegeman and Fikse were tied for the team high in block assists at three. 

After the game, head coach Ahen Kim praised the crowd gathered, saying “their energy kept us in the game, I have all the love for the crowd.” He encouraged the students to keep supporting the team throughout their season, and give them a true seventh man on the court. 

Kim praised Uzen’s performance, saying that her tenure on the team and talent are what the team relies on early in the year. “She’s always managing the game for the team, and finding creative ways to score. She’s the rock of the team.” 

Kim said the team only had two weeks of preparation together once he was hired as head volleyball coach. He said, “this team got better throughout this weekend. [It’s] a quick turnaround with only two weeks of training, and I’m so proud of what they accomplished this weekend.” He also said having three games in three days exposes some weaknesses and places that the team can improve on, and he emphasized that it is better to find those early than late. 

The Eagles return to action on Sept. 1 when they take on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks to open a weekend tournament in Bender Arena. 


This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis. 

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