Nov. 19, 2005
WASHINGTON - Down 2-1 in games and eight points away from elimination, the American University women's volleyball team went on a 30-8 run to take the fourth game and build an insurmountable lead in the fifth as they won their fifth straight Patriot League Championship Saturday night and earned an automatic berth into next month's NCAA Tournament. Sophomore Chelsa Brooks (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player as she crushed 14 kills, hit .355 and added 3.5 blocks to lead the Eagles.
American's post-season hopes almost vanished for the second night in a row as Army won games two and three and appeared to be in control of the fourth, going on a 12-3 run to take a 22-10 lead. An Army attack error followed by a six point AU run, fueled by two service aces from senior libero Jennifer Cosco (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills), turned the tide for the Eagles and made the score 22-17. With Bender Arena rocking, American inched closer, tying the game at 27 and taking a 29-27 lead on three straight Brooks' kills. After an Army kill, junior Elizabeth Maloney (Toronto, Ontario/Richview C.I.) put the game away at 30-28 with a slam to the right side.
AU carried the momentum into the fifth game, opening a 10-2 lead and cruising the rest of the way to a 15-6 match win. The Eagles controlled the net in the game, shutting Army down to a -.050 hitting percentage.
American won the first game, 30-24 and Army came back to win the second 30-17 and take the close third game, 30-27.
Cutrina Biddulph (Reseda, Calif./Granada Hills) had a team-high 19 kills and .360 hitting percentage along with one solo block and five block assists. Freshman Rubena Sukaj (Tirana, Albania/Asim Vokshi) contributed all over the court, knocking 18 kills, four service aces and digging 10 attacks. Maloney was another Eagle in double figures in kills with 17.
Setter Tara Stradling ( Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) was everywhere for the Eagles, notching a double-double of 37 assists and a team-high 14 digs. Also making crucial plays for the Eagles were Christina Nash (Princeton, Fla./Coral Reef) who had 19 assists and one solo block and five block assists and Cosco who had 12 digs.
As a team, AU's front line owned the net in the second half of the match, combining for 13.5 total blocks. American also had the edge in hitting percentage at .275 to Army's .232.
For the second time ever in PL play (and second straight night), the Eagles were forced to a fifth straight game and rallied from down 2-1 to win.
American has one match before the NCAA Tournament, playing Temple in Philadelphia, Pa. on Nov. 26 at 4:00 p.m. Tonight's contest will be televised on College Sports Television (CSTV) tomorrow night, nationally at 8 p.m.