The American University volleyball team will kick off the 2012 season on Friday, August 24 with the sixth annual Bender Blue Out, part of the D.C. Volleyball Challenge. American is set to face Georgetown at 7 p.m.
The Eagles will be looking to break their own Washington, D.C. collegiate volleyball attendance record Friday, a feat which has been accomplished four of the last five years. 2,122 fans were on hand at last year's Bender Blue Out when American hosted George Washington, surpassing the previous record of 2,055 set in 2010. The Bender Blue Out has seen an average of 1,865 fans since its inception in 2007.
All AU students are encouraged to begin their evening at the All-American Barbecue on the quad at 5 p.m., where they can enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere including games and appearances by the AU Spirit Program. The doors to Bender Arena open at 6 p.m. and all students with a valid AU ID will be admitted for free and treated to a free pregame fan fest with Coca-Cola products, Robeks smoothies, face painting and sign making. Friday's game will also be the first chance for Blue Crew members to pick up their official 2012-13 Blue Crew t-shirts and membership ID cards. The fan fest will be concluded with a special banner unveiling ceremony honoring the 2011 Patriot League Championship team.
American was unanimously selected first in the 2012 Patriot League Preseason Poll, the 11th time in 12 seasons the Eagles have been ranked in the number one spot. The team captured its 10th Patriot League Championship in 11 years during the 2011 season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in 15 years. The Eagles posted an overall record of 23-11 with a 13-1 mark in the Patriot League.
The Eagles return 12 players from last year's squad including redshirt senior Rebecca Heath and 2011 Patriot League Player and Rookie of the Year Sara Rishell. Heath was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team last season, recording 10 double-doubles on the year. The 2012 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year, Rishell became just the second player in conference history to be named the Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
American also returns 2012 Preseason All-Patriot League selection Juliana Crum and 2011 Second Team All-Patriot League selection Monika Smidova. Crum was named to the All-Patriot League First Team last season and finished the year averaging a team-best 2.64 dps. Smidova tallied a team-high 47 service aces during the season and ranked second on the team with 5.67 aps.
American's roster will be bolstered by the addition of six new faces in 2012. The recruiting class includes Allison Cappellino (OH/L), Sarah Katz (OH), Kristyna Lindovska (RS), Teodora Peric (S), Kylann Scheidt (S) and Jessica Warner (S).
After Friday's opening match, the D.C. Volleyball Challenge will continue in Bender Arena on Saturday, August 25 at 1 p.m. when George Mason faces Georgetown. The action will continue at 7 p.m. when the Eagles host the Patriots to wrap up the tournament.
American has won three of the previous five D.C. Volleyball Challenges and is 9-6 all-time in the tournament. The Eagles claimed the title in 2010, 2008 and 2007.
Fans can watch both of American's games live on Eagles Vision TV.