WASHINGTON – Freshman Aleksandra Kazala recorded a career-high 13 kills and 14 digs to lead the American University volleyball team to a 3-1 victory over Navy Tuesday evening in Patriot League action.
The Eagles dropped the first set, 25-16, but rebounded with 25-19, 25-13, 25-21 set victories to improve to 20-6 overall and 11-0 in the league.
Meanwhile, the Mids had their four-match winning streak snapped, dropping to 6-18 overall and 4-7 in the Patriot League.
American never led in the opening set against Navy, which had its largest advantage at 15-6. The Eagles never came closer than four points the rest of the way, as the Mids hit .469 to hand AU its first PL set loss in Bender Arena since November 2013.
The Eagles got out to a hot start in the second set, taking a 5-0 lead. Navy came back to cut the margin to 9-8, but American pulled away late to tie the match. In the third set, American again started on a 5-0 run. This time, the Midshipmen never challenged, hitting -.065 in the set.
The fourth set was close in the beginning, but American used a 3-0 run to break an 8-8 tie and stayed ahead for the duration. The Eagles led by as many as six points, but the Mids used a late run to cut the margin to 23-21 before AU finished off the match.
Senior Allison Cappellino added 13 kills and 12 digs for the Eagles, who reached the 20-win threshold for the 17th time in the last 18 seasons and clinched a berth in the PL Tournament.
"I think in the first set, we were a little bit off," said Kazala. "In the second set, we brought more energy to our game. We started passing better, playing better defense. Good serve and pass was the key to success."
"In the first set, we weren't digging the ball very well and we weren't setting up the block that well," said American head coach Barry Goldberg. "It takes intensity. We didn't come out as strong as we needed to.
"Defensively, I thought we started blocking better [in the second set]. We didn't have a block in the first set, and we're a dynamic blocking team when this game is going well for us. I think that was the difference as the match went on."
AU plays its final road matches of the regular season this weekend, when it visits Holy Cross and Army West Point. The Eagles face the Crusaders on Friday at 7 p.m. before playing the Black Knights Saturday at 5 p.m.