Eagles outlast Greyhounds to win 3-1
Defensive performance puts American over the top
Coming into the match, American was still riding their win over defending Patriot League champion Colgate, while Loyola Maryland was coming off a sweep loss against Navy on Oct. 18.
Starting the set off strong with two kills from junior setter Esma Sipahi, the Eagles found their groove early. Kills from five different players and two aces from junior libero Bridget Javitch helped propel American to a 15-8 lead before the Greyhounds had a chance to react.
A timeout calmed the large crowd gathered for the game, and Loyola Maryland started to come back into the set. The Greyhounds went on an 11-4 run after this first timeout, tying the set at 19. Even with the American attempts to stave off the comeback, a kill from Loyola Maryland was enough to win them the first set, 25-23.
Throughout the entire match, the Greyhounds never allowed American to get off to a big run, and that was most evident in the second set. Five ties and four lead changes along with long rallies told the story of this set. Graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen, sophomore outside hitter Adelina Berisha and graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse all notched multiple kills in this set to tie the match, winning 25-23.
American’s third set started off with them trading points with Loyola Maryland, never amounting to a lead greater than 2 points before pulling away. The Eagles went on a 15-10 run to close the set, with Uzen hitting 16 kills on the day, Berisha slamming her ninth and junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman landing her seventh. American won this set 25-20, sending them into the fourth set with a 2-1 lead and a chance to put away the match.
Long rallies tired the Greyhounds out. With American maintaining good defense and prolonging rallies, Loyola ran out of gas in the fourth set. The Eagles went up to a swift 16-11 lead, with only five of those points coming from kills. More blocks, aces and another two kills from Uzen got the set to a 24-20 match point, where Uzen and Stegeman batted down an attack to secure the match for American.
“After getting swept by Loyola when we traveled to them, it felt good to get some revenge on our home court,” Stegeman, who recently returned from a knee injury and posted eight kills and four blocks on the night, said. “I’m grateful that my teammates were so supportive of me getting through the injury, and it feels really good to be back to full strength.”
Uzen led the team in kills with 18, followed by Berisha with 10. Javitch led the team in digs with 21, followed close behind by senior defensive specialist Rachael Bennett with 18. Sipahi led the team in assists with 47. Stegeman and Fikse tied for the team lead in blocks, each posting four.
American next travels to play the Lehigh Mountain Hawks on Oct. 27 before returning home to face the Holy Cross Crusaders on Nov. 3.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.