Dec. 2, 2005
LINCOLN, Neb. - The American University women's volleyball team struggled digging their opponents' attacks and in finding their own offensive rhythm as they lost 3-0 to the Duke Blue Devils in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Nebraska Coliseum Friday night. For the fifth straight year, American (25-10) leaves the NCAA Tournament winless, falling 30-14, 30-16 and 30-16.
"We've struggled early in just about every match we've been in at the NCAA tournament," head coach Barry Goldberg said. "Usually as time went on, we would get into a little bit of a groove and come back in the second or third game to hang in there. But it didn't have as much capability to do that in this one. Duke was solid, and they didn't make a lot of errors."
Jennifer Cosco (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) gave AU what turned out to be their only lead of the night with a service ace for the match's opening point. The lead was short-lived as Duke went on an 8-0 run and American had no answer for the Blue Devils' attack defensively and could not counter with their own, losing 30-14. Duke followed up the early run with another 6-1 run to make the score 19-7. The Blue Devils continued hitting the ball in the right spots around AU's front line and in between the back row as they extended their lead to take the game. American hit -.080 on the game and the Blue Devils' hit .565.
The second game started similarly to the previous with Duke running to an early 8-2 advantage. American did not go away, recovering with a 9-5 run to get to 11-13. That was as close as AU would get as Duke went on a 17-5 run over the rest of the game, ending it at 30-16. The Eagles' struggles in digging the Duke attack continued as they only had two in the stanza with Duke holding a 19-5 advantage through the match's two games. American also committed four service errors and hit .074 as compared to Duke's .500.
The Eagles hit their best in the final game, but it was not enough as they lost, 30-16. The closest AU got after 1-1 was 8-14. Duke went on a 16-8 run from that point and closed out the match, 3-0.
American hit just .075 in the match while Duke hit a shade under .500. AU was outdug 43-17 and outblocked 7-3. The Eagles' serves only resulted in two aces for the match.
Cutrina Biddulph (Reseda, Calif./Granada Hills) was American's leader in kills (9), hitting percentage (.346) and block assists (2). Freshman Rubena Sukaj (Tirana, Albania/Asim Vokshi) was the only other Eagle with a positive hitting percentage as she tallied 7 kills for .167 hitting percentage.
The match was the final collegiate competition for Biddulph and Cosco. Biddulph will go down as the school's finest middle blocker with the school record in block assists (326) and a place in the top-five in kills with 1384. Cosco etched her name in the American record book with the fifth-highest dig per game average for a season.
American looks to 2006 for its sixth straight Patriot League Championship and first NCAA Tournament win in school history.