WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Eagles volleyball team continues a difficult nonconference schedule this weekend when it hosts the American Volleyball Classic at Bender Arena.
American, now 4-7 overall, opens the event by hosting Buffalo on Friday evening. The Eagles then play host to Howard on Saturday at 11 a.m. and finish the event with a home match against No. 5 Penn State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
AMERICAN GAME NOTES
• Junior middle Vela McBride earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team at the Kansas Invitational last weekend. She tied Aleksandra Kazala for the team lead with 24 kills in the three matches and hit a team-best .367 against Kansas, Loyola Marymount and Auburn.
• Despite the losses, the Eagles battled against strong competition. There were 20 ties and eight lead changes in the match with Auburn.
• Kazala leads the Eagles with a 3.15 kills-per-set average, while Loren McKenzie (3rd, .374), Jeanne Westney (6th, .357) and McBride (7th, .314) are among the leaders in the Patriot League in hitting percentage.
• Senior setter Kennedy Etheridge leads the PL with 9.66 assists per set.
• Prior to the Penn State match on Saturday, libero Kristen Largay will be honored for posting 1,000 career digs earlier in the season. The Eagle junior became only the seventh AU player ever to reach 1,000 digs in her career.
SCOUTING BUFFALO (vs. AU, Friday, 7:00 p.m.)
• The Bulls are 6-3 after their first three tournaments of 2018. They swept Niagara, Seton Hall and North Dakota State at home to open strong. Last weekend, they lost to Arkansas and Northwestern, but beat Butler in a five-set match.
• Sophomore Andrea Mitrovic (3.58 kills per set) and junior Polina Prokudina (2.94) provide a strong 1-2 punch offensively. Buffalo's top setter is junior Scout McLerran, averaging 10.00 assists per set.
• Junior middle Kristina Nieves has been good at the net, averaging 1.14 blocks per set.
SCOUTING HOWARD (vs. AU, Saturday, 11:00 a.m.)
• The Bison are 5-5 overall coming into Friday's match with Penn State in Burr Gymnasium. They swept George Washington and George Mason on the season's first weekend in the D.C. Volleyball Challenge, and won a tournament at Lamar the next weekend.
• Sophomore outside Jurnee Tipton leads Howard's offense at 2.91 kills per set. Senior middle Olubunmi Okundae averages 2.28 kills per sent and is hitting .331.
• Sophomore libero Fola Wilson averages 4.11 digs per set.
SCOUTING NO. 5 PENN STATE (vs. AU, Saturday, 7:00 p.m.)
• Like AU's Barry Goldberg, Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose is celebrating his 40th season as head coach. He is the winningest NCAA Division I coach by victories (1,249) and winning percentage (.863).
• This year's Nittany Lions come into D.C. with a 6-1 record. Penn State's only loss was a three-set defeat at Stanford.
• Senior outside Nia Reed averages 3.14 kills per set, many coming from senior setter Bryanna Weiskircher (9.67 assists per set). PSU has six different players averaging at least 0.70 blocks per set, led by freshman middle Kaitlyn Hord (1.53).
American begins the Patriot League portion of the schedule on the road next weekend, traveling to Lafayette on Friday evening at 7 p.m. and Bucknell on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Eagles return home on Saturday, Sept. 29 to face Loyola Maryland at 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 30 for a 2 p.m. matinee with Navy.
Tickets to all AU volleyball matches at Bender Arena are available throughout the season.
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