Eagles soar over defending Patriot League champs with 3-2 win
American ends nine game losing streak
The American University volleyball team (14-9) defeated the Colgate Raiders (16-6) on Oct. 15 at Bender Arena, ending a nine game losing streak for the team. This win also ended Colgate’s 11-game winning streak against Patriot League opponents, stretching back into the 2022 season.
It took all five sets for the Eagles to put away the Raiders, and in the two sets American lost, the margin of defeat was only 7 points. Throughout the entire match, American and Colgate played each other closely. The game was not one of easily-earned points, consisting of long rallies and stout defense from both sides.
The first set got off to a close start, with the Eagles and Raiders going back and forth, tying at 7 points. American then pulled away, rattling off 10 points to Colgate’s 3, forcing Colgate’s coaching staff to call a timeout. The rest of the set was all Eagles, with sophomore outside hitter Adelina Berisha, junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman and graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse all notching kills en route to a 25-16 set victory.
Up 1-0, the next set was just as close as the first. Through this set, there were a total of 17 ties and seven lead changes. Fans in Bender Arena were on the edge of their seats as graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen’s ninth kill of the day won the set 25-23. This set win put American up by a score of two sets to none.
Heading into the third set, the Eagles looked to close out a shocking sweep of the reigning Patriot League champion Raiders, but Colgate was not ready to concede. After meeting Colgate at 15-15, a 10-5 run from the Raiders was enough to close out the set. This set saw Uzen and Berisha both hit their tenth kills of the day, but an ace from Colgate was enough to send this match to its fourth set, sealing the set score at 25-20.
The Eagles got off to a slow start in the fourth set, falling to a 12-5 deficit early on. They clawed their way back, tying the score at 21 and not letting Colgate get ahead by more than one point until a final block from Colgate. This block marked the score at 27-25, tying the match at two sets per team.
In a do-or-die situation for the Eagles, the gathered crowd in Bender got louder and louder as the teams traded points in the fifth set. Six ties and three lead changes meant this set and game were as close as it could be, with long rallies and hard-earned points characterizing this final set. Uzen and Berisha both hit the 20-kill mark in this set, and after two attacks that went long from the Raiders, American secured the set with a score of 15-12 and the match with a score of 3-2.
After the game, junior libero Bridget Javitch said that this game left the team exhausted. “We’re coming off of five sets at Navy yesterday, and having to play another five today has left us all really tired,” Javitch said. “I’m still really proud of this team for pulling through and keeping our composure in the fifth to take the win.”
She also commended other players on the team for their performances on the day, saying “Zeynep [Uzen] is our safety net; whenever we need a big point, we’re able to get the ball to her and she’ll make it happen. Addie [Berisha] stepped up today, and her performance was something we really needed.”
Berisha led the team in kills on the day with 22 and Uzen trailed close behind with 21. Junior setter Esma Sipahi led the team in assists with 53, and Javitch led the team in digs with 22.
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.