Eagles end Holy Cross’ crusade

Volleyball secures spot in Patriot League playoffs with sweep

Eagles end Holy Cross’ crusade

The American University volleyball team (17-9) swept the Holy Cross Crusaders 3-0 (4-19) on Nov. 3 in Bender Arena, winning 25-20, 25-20, 25-16. 

With this win, the Eagles clinched a spot in the Patriot League playoffs and the opportunity to earn a first-round bye in their final two games. This was also American’s sixth straight win, and fifth straight in four sets or fewer. 

Coming into this match, American finished off their slate of road games for the season with two 3-1 wins over Lehigh and Lafayette. Holy Cross traveled to D.C. off of a 3-0 loss against Army on Oct. 29. 

The Eagles started off slow in the first set, giving up early points to the Crusaders before pulling away after a 7-7 tie. A leaping denial of an attack from freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Evans increased the Eagles’ lead to 5 points late in the set. Another block from graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen and graduate student middle blocker Carlie Fikse won the set for American. 

After a tight start to the first set, the Eagles got off on the wrong foot in the second, going down 9-5 early on. They stayed down by 4 points for the middle portion of the set before finding a second wind. Aces from Fikse and senior outside hitter Maya Mrus helped the Eagles come back from the deficit, putting up a 15-6 run to close out the set with an ace from junior libero Bridget Javitch.

American’s third set of the match started off with long rallies, tiring them out. In this set and throughout the match, Holy Cross committed to hitting the ball with a tremendous amount of force, their strategy being to not give American’s players any time to react. 

While it worked at the start of the set, this strategy proved unsustainable, as the Eagles tied the set at 10 before posting another 15-6 run to close out the match. Fikse notched her fourth kill of the day to secure the sweep victory for the Eagles. 

Uzen led the team in kills with 16, followed by junior outsider hitter Adelina Berisha with 11. Junior setter Esma Sipahi led the team in assists with 33, while Javitch led the team in digs with 20. 

After the match, Mrus and the team celebrated clinching fourth place in the Patriot League, and the home quarterfinal match that this win delivered. On her two aces set American up for success in this match, she said: “A couple of good plays from me, but I put it all on my team. They’re the ones out here scoring points, and I help them do that just like they help me.” 

After a five set loss against Army, the Eagles remain home to play the Bucknell Bison in their final regular season matchup on Nov. 11. 

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


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