Eagles soar over Leopards in Patriot League home opener
Defensive performance delivers AU 3-0 win
This match was their first back in Bender Arena since their Sept. 2 match against Marist, marking the end of a 27-day road trip. During this span of away games, the Eagles faced Cal State Fullerton, Loyola Marymount, Rhode Island, Stonehill, Howard, Holy Cross, Army and Coppin State. The Eagles went 3-5 in this span without getting swept, and posting two sweep victories of their own.
The Eagles started the first set playing close with the Leopards, an 8-8 tie established after 16 points. After this point, Lafayette went on a big run, clawing their way to an 18-11 score and forcing a timeout from AU.
The Eagles came back with a vengeance after the break, with graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen punching three straight kills to swing the set back into the Eagles’ favor. After Uzen’s fourth kill, Lafayette called a hurried timeout, but it proved no use. Three straight kills, with two more from Uzen, put the Eagles up by two, and they carried that momentum to win the set 25-22.
The second set started off with the Leopards in control, but AU was playing them close. Five ties and five lead changes occurred before the Eagles started to pull away. Defensive performances from both teams won and lost this set. 10 of this set’s 45 points came from blocks, and 3 points went back and forth at least four times. A kill here and there for the Eagles helped them chip away at Lafayette’s defense, setting them up for freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Evans to secure the 25-20 set victory with a kill.
The Eagles began the third set close to the Leopards again, tying with Lafayette 11 times before pulling away. Five more kills from Uzen, putting her at 20 for the day, along with contributions from freshman opposite hitter Carly Sciborski and freshman outside hitter Holly Hopkins propelled the Eagles to a 25-19 set victory and a match victory.
Uzen led the team in kills with 20, with Sciborski and graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse following behind with eight each. Junior libero Bridget Javitch led the team with 15 digs, and junior setter Esma Sipahi led with 39 assists.
After the game, Fikse expressed excitement at being back in Bender. When asked about the team’s performance in the game, she said, “We really got into a rhythm late in the game, and it helped us pull away.”
The Eagles travel to face the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds on Oct. 3. Their next home match is against the Colgate Raiders on Oct. 15.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.