Volleyball sweeps Loyola Maryland in quarterfinal
Eagles punch their ticket to match up with Army in semifinals
The American University volleyball team (19-10), defeated the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (11-16) in straight sets on Nov. 14. The Eagles posted nine team blocks in their Patriot League quarterfinal victory.
The Eagles entered this match coming off of a 3-0 home win against the Bucknell Bison on Nov. 11. The Greyhounds entered this match off of a 3-2 victory at Holy Cross, and earned the #6 seed after the Patriot League’s final weekend of games.
Before the match began, American’s head coach Ahen Kim presented awards to two of his student athletes on behalf of the Patriot League. First, junior setter Esma Sipahi received the award for Patriot League Setter of the Year. After Sipahi embraced Kim, graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen accepted the next award for Patriot League Player of the Year. Both players posed for pictures and celebrated with the team as the match kicked off.
The first set of this match was all Eagles after a 7-7 tie early on. An 18-11 run followed, featuring two kills from Uzen and two from freshman outside hitter Carly Sciborski. The Eagles also posted their first two team blocks of the night for points during this set, setting the tone for their defensive performance.
The Eagles got off to a hot start in the second set, gaining a 6-1 lead and never letting up. Even though the Greyhounds matched American point for point through the end of the set, this lead never faltered. Three more kills from Uzen, two from freshman outside hitter Holly Hopkins, and two from junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman were enough to close out the 25-20 set victory, putting the Eagles up 2-0.
The third set saw American go down to an early deficit, matching the one they put up on Loyola the set prior. However, the Eagles caught fire and fought back after this early flurry from the Greyhounds. Playing from behind for most of the set, the Eagles still found their way to win this set and match. The Eagles’ final three team blocks and a set of long rallies secured the match for American, winning the final set 25-20.
Uzen said after the game that it felt “really weird” for this to be the end of her home career at AU, even if it was a playoff home win. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but I don’t think it will for a little while. We still have two games to go.”
On the Eagles’ trip to the semifinals, Uzen said, “We’re winning. There’s no way any member of this team is going to let each other fail.”
Sipahi said that this was “Everything the team could have asked for” in a home playoff game. Despite being nervous heading into the team’s next match on the road, she said, “if we can establish our home rhythm on the road, we can’t lose.”
Kim expressed his pride in the team.
“Talk about growth throughout the season, peaking at the right time and embracing change in a short period of time,” Kim said. “Change is hard in normal conditions, but this team stepped up in a big way.”
“We’re better because of the loss[es],” Kim said. “This team is one that takes adversity and learns, and I couldn’t be prouder of them for it.”
American next travels to Colgate for the remainder of the Patriot League playoffs, facing Army in a semifinal match on Nov. 17.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.