Volleyball trounces Bucknell in final regular season game
Eagles secure #3 seed in playoffs on Senior Day
The American University volleyball team (18-10) swept the Bucknell Bison (15-10) in Bender Arena on Nov. 11, winning 25-13, 25-21, 25-18. This was the final game of both teams’ regular seasons and seeding implications for the Patriot League playoffs were on the line.
The Eagles entered this match looking for a trademark win to end its season, especially after their recent five- set loss to Army on Nov. 4. Bucknell came in riding an eight-game win streak after a 3-1 home victory against Lehigh, and wanted to close out its season with one more win. The winner of this match would earn the #3 seed in the Patriot League playoffs, and the loser would fall to the #4 seed.
Before the match began, the team thanked its four seniors for their contributions to the community. Middle blocker Carlie Fikse, middle blocker Allie Burke, outside hitter Katie Putney and outside hitter Maya Mrus were all recognized in the ceremony, receiving flowers and adoration from the fans gathered for the game.
The Eagles opened the match with a huge 9-2 run, forcing Bucknell to call the first timeout of the set. Graduate student outside hitter Zeynep Uzen and junior middle blocker Lilou Stegeman both contributed two kills to the score in this run. Another 5-3 run in the Eagles’ favor forced Bucknell’s second timeout, and American kept their momentum running. The Eagles finished the set with a dominant 11-8 run including two back-to-back aces from junior libero Bridget Javitch.
The second set was closer than the first, featuring six ties and four lead changes. The Eagles pulled away in the end, winning 25-21 after a service error from Bucknell. Four straight kills from Uzen brought the Eagles back from an early deficit, tying the set at 12 before the Eagles took off.
Losing was not a possibility for the Eagles in the final set of this match. After getting out to a 20-12 lead carried by aces from Javitch and Uzen as well as two kills from Fikse, the Eagles’ head coach Ahen Kim started putting in seniors. Mrus played in the second set, but Burke and Putney had not seen playing time in the match until this point. Putney put one final regular season kill on her all-time stat sheet, and Burke contributed to one final kill from freshman outside hitter Holly Hopkins that secured the sweep victory, 25-18.
After the game, Fikse said it was an emotional moment to see the seniors come in during the final set. “I love all of them so much,” she said, “and I’m happy that we were able to get such an amazing sendoff with a game like this.”
Uzen led the team in kills with 14, followed by Hopkins with nine. Javitch led the team in digs with 17, with senior Rachael Bennett trailing close behind with 11. Junior setter Esma Sipahi led the team in assists with 34.
Fikse said that playing at home for the playoffs is a “definite advantage” for American, as the crowd’s energy always gets them up and throws off any opponents they have. “We’ve been putting together some amazing volleyball throughout the season, so it’s exciting to be able to do that a few more times in the playoffs,” Fikse said.
The Eagles went on to win their quarterfinal match as the #3 seed against Loyola Maryland on Nov. 14. They will travel to face #2 seed Army in the Patriot League semifinals.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Luna Jinks.