Nov. 18, 2005
WASHINGTON - In a hard fought five game match, which saw Bucknell leading from the start and through three games at 2-1, the American University women's volleyball team came from behind to win 3-2 and advance to the Patiot League Championship. Chelsa Brooks (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard-Darby) was American's most effective player on the night with 16 kills and a .400 hitting percentage to go with one solo block and four block assists as the match went 25-30, 30-28, 28-30, 30-28 and 15-11 in the Eagles' favor..
In the decisive fifth game, with the score tied at five, American went on a 5-0 run and held the advantage to win 15-11 on an Elizabeth Maloney (Toronto, Ontario/Richview C.I.) kill.
The Eagles fell behind by as much as five through most of the first game and came one point from tying it twice before falling 30-25 to Bucknell. American hit only .200 for the first game, while Bucknell averaged .261. Cutrina Biddulph (Reseda, Calif./Granada Hills) had six kills and Brooks and Rubena Sukaj (Tirana, Albania/Asim Vokshi) added four as they were the only Eagles to hit above .300 in the game.
After taking an early lead, then giving it up late, AU won a very tight second game on a Sukaj kill at 30-25. AU stormed out of the gates in the second game on a 5-0 run and held it to 18-13. The Eagles kept the six point cushion to 23-17, but Bucknell charged back, tying the score at 24 and taking the lead at 26-25. The points went back and forth to a tie at 28 before a Bucknell attack error gave AU the lead and Sukaj put the game away. Neither team hit above .150 in the second game. At the net, had seven total blocks led by Biddulph's four block assists and Sukaj's one solo block and two assists.
Bucknell reversed game two on the Eagles by leading in the beginning, losing it in the final 10 points, but hanging on for the 30-28 third game win. After trading points late to make it 27-29, AU scored on a Biddulph kill forcing timeouts from both sides. With freshmen Tessa Paganini (Sonoma, Calif./Sonoma Valley) subbed in for Logan Striebel (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons), the Bison converted the serve into a kill for the win at 30-28. Each team hit over .300 for the game with Bucknell edging American at .349 to .302. Sukaj hammered seven kills and a service ace to lead the Eagles.
Down 18-21 in the fourth game with Jennifer Cosco (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) serving, American reeled off eight straight points to make it 26-21. Bucknell fought back to make it 29-28, but on a long rally, Tara Stradling (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) made a huge pancake dig and an emphatic Brooks pounded a kill down the middle for the 30-28 win. Biddulph and Brooks had five and four kills respectively to lead the Eagles' attack.
The Eagles combined for 16 total blocks and hit .205 over the five games. Christina Nash (Princeton, Fla./Coral Reef) had 39 assists along with two solo blocks and four block assists and Stradling added 16 assists with eight digs.
Sukaj had a match-high 20 kills and four service aces, while fellow front-liner Biddulph slammed 18. Maloney was the only other Eagle in double figures with 13 kills.
This match was the first time in American's Patriot League history that they were forced to a fifth game. Earlier this year, the Eagles swept the Bison in their two matches.
American goes on to face Army, the team who ended the Eagles' 70 match PL winning streak earlier in the year, in the nationally-televised PL Championship at 7 p.m. in Bender Arena. The match will be shown on tape-delay on CSTV on Sunday Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.