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Volleyball goes undefeated in weekend tournament

Eagles dropped a single set in three matches

The American University volleyball team (5-1) hosted a round robin tournament on Sept. 1 and 2 at Bender Arena where they went undefeated. 

This tournament featured the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (3-4), Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (0-7) and the Marist Red Foxes (2-4) competing alongside AU. Each team played three matches. The Eagles won the weekend, posting a 3-0 record to Marist’s 2-1, UMES’s 1-2 and CCSU’s 0-3. 

AU came into this series of games with a 2-1 record and looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Georgetown on Aug. 27.

AU’s first matchup of the weekend was against UMES on Sept. 1. The Hawks lost a game to Marist 3-0 earlier in the day, and were looking to fire back with a win against the hosting AU. A large crowd of AU students gathered for this match, cheering the team on to a 3-0 sweep victory. AU dominated the first set of this match with a score of 25-22, with UMES only in the lead once through the entire set. 

The Hawks fought back late in the first set to get the score close, but the Eagles’ win was never in doubt. AU got off to a slow start in the next set, going down 10-6 early, but then storming back late for a 25-20 set win. 

The third and final set of this match set many fans in Bender Arena on edge, with the Eagles blowing a 15-7 lead early, UMES tying up the score at 21 late in the set. However, AU pulled away and secured the game with a sealing spike from graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse, bringing the set’s final score at 25-22. 

Graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen racked up 20 kills in this game, and later expressed happiness that AU started off the weekend with a win. 

“Getting back to our systems was what helped us pull away in that match,” Uzen said.

The Eagles were up early the next day, as their match took place at 11 a.m. on Sept. 2 against CCSU. The Blue Devils were looking for their first win of the season this weekend, but didn’t find it playing AU. The Eagles did not have as large of a crowd behind them for this match, but still swept this match with authority, a 3-0 win. 

CCSU came out punching against AU early on, with five ties in the span of the first twelve points. AU pulled away after a 6-6 tie, with five straight points on kills from Uzen, Fikse, junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman and senior defensive specialist Rachael Bennett. Fikse closed out the first set’s 25-14 win with a kill. 

The second set was more of the same, a 6-6 tie marking a turning point for AU, and a 25-17 set win Uzen secured with her eleventh kill of the game. Freshman outside hitter Holly Hopkins contributed to many points in this set, notching three of her total 14 kills in this set. 

The final set of this sweep was a romp, the Eagles jumping out to a 15-8 lead, then only allowing the Blue Devils six more points for the rest of the set and match. The Eagles won the set 25-14, taking the game as well. 

After the match, Hopkins said, “even a few games in with our new head coach, we already have a great connection. I’m thankful for my teammates for both making me look better and picking me up after lost points.” She said the team is like a machine, and that everyone has a part to play to make sure the machine works so they win games. 

AU’s final match of the weekend was against the Marist Red Foxes, a team that also won both of their previous matches in the tournament. This clash of 2-0 teams made for a closer game than the other two on AU’s docket for this weekend. 

Marist held control of the first set, but AU played the Red Foxes close, fighting back for 15 ties and 13 lead changes. Two back-to-back aces in the middle of the set from junior libero Bridget Javitch helped keep the Eagles in the set, but they eventually faltered, losing the set 25-23. This was AU’s first dropped set of the weekend. 

The Eagles fired back quickly in the second set, taking it by a score of 25-17. This set was characterized by dueling points from AU and Marist, but AU pulled away late on the back of two aces from senior outside hitter Maya Mrus. These aces forced a timeout from Marist shortly after  kills from Uzen and Hopkins. During this set, Javitch took a big hit to the head while diving for a dig, but finished the set. Uzen’s eighth kill of the match secured the set for AU, tying the game up at one set each. 

In between the second and third sets, Javitch left the court and Mrus donned a different colored jersey to take over at libero. The third set saw AU rock the Red Foxes, taking the set in a swift 25-10 victory. Freshman opposite hitter Carly Sciborski showed out in this set, notching four kills in the 35 points played. This set win put the Eagles up 2-1, going into a decisive set. 

With Mrus still in at libero, AU started off the fourth set playing Marist close. Both teams were tied at eight points after 16, but two more aces from Mrus set AU’s momentum for the rest of the set. The Red Foxes fought back, getting the game to a tie at 22, but a final 3-0 run from AU secured the match win. Fikse contributed the game-winning point, a thunderous block to win the match and weekend for AU. The Eagles prevailed in this final match by a score of 3-1.

After the final match of the weekend, head coach Ahen Kim praised all three teams the Eagles played. He acknowledged UMES’s scrappy, defensive style that gave the Eagles trouble early in their match, CCSU’s ability to keep up long rallies and Marist for taking a set off of AU. He noted that Marist had a change in setter due to injury after the second set of this final match, and commended the Red Foxes for fighting back even with that mid-match change.  

When asked about Javitch, he said “Bri took a hit to the head, and we wanted to be cautious about any injury she might have sustained. Our trainers are doing a great job with her, and we expect she’ll be back shortly.” Javitch was on the court during the third and fourth sets, but did not play. 

Kim also mentioned the long road trip the Eagles are about to embark on, with two games on the west coast next weekend. 

“We get to play in front of Holly’s [Hopkins] family. They’ll get to see that she is responding to adversity in these games, and is a very mature competitor, especially for only being a freshman.” 

The Eagles travel to take on the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Sept. 8 for their next match. Their next home match is against the Lafayette Leopards on Sept. 29.

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

sports@theeagleonline.com 


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