Nov. 5, 2005
WASHINGTON - In perhaps the most anticipated Patriot League regular season match in American University volleyball history, the Eagles avenged an earlier season loss to Army with a 3-0 clean sweep of the Black Knights in front a raucous crowd in Bender Arena on senior night Saturday. AU's energy was at a season-high all night as the team clinched their fifth straight Patriot League regular season title earning the right to host the tournament in two weeks.
The Eagles combined for a .320 hitting percentage against the league's best defensive team, taking the games 30-22, 30-25 and 30-20.
From the start of game one, it was clear that every point counted for both teams as they went back and forth through the first half of game one before AU pulled away for the 30-22 win. With friends and family in the audience, senior Cutrina Biddulph (Reseda, Calif./Granada Hills) came out swinging with six kills for .500 hitting percentage. Rubena Sukaj (Tirana, Albania/Asim Vokshi) also added five attacks including at one point four in a row. On the opposite side, the Black Knights struggled with service errors in the first game, giving away five points.
The second game ended closer at 30-25 though AU had jumped to leads as big as eight after the halfway point. Elizabeth Maloney (Toronto, Ontario/Richview C.I.) and Christina Nash (Princeton, Fla./Coral Reef) added four and three kills apiece in the game. The AU faithful were getting on the visiting team as Army again gave away five points on the serve for the game.
After the break a composed and relaxed Eagles squad charged out to an early 11-3 lead and never looked back, extending it to 30-20 as the match ended on an Army service error. AU hit a match-high .367 while Army hit a match-low .114 as the lead was never in contention.
"Our setters played fantastic and our seniors stepped up big time," head coach Barry Goldberg said in assessing the team's performance.
With the win the Eagles (22-8, PL 13-1) clinched the right to host the Patriot League Tournament in two weeks at Bender Arena. In beating Army, the Eagles made up for an earlier season 3-0 loss - the team's first since joining the Patriot League in 2001 - to the Black Knights earlier in the season.
Biddulph and Sukaj totaled 12 and 11 kills each as numerous Eagles contributed on the front line including Chelsa Brooks (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) with seven kills, Nash with six and 21 assists and Maloney with six kills and five aces.
In her final regular season home match, Jennifer Cosco (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) contributed 10 digs for an Eagles team that combined for 38.
The Eagles return to action against local rival George Washington on their campus on Saturday Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.