Nov. 27, 2005
WASHINGTON - The American University women's volleyball team will play Duke University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.(CST) in Lincoln, Neb., the NCAA selection committee announced Sunday. The 25-9 Eagles are coming off their fifth straight Patriot League Championship and Saturday's 3-1 win over Atlantic-10 conference finalist Temple University.
"We're playing at the best place you can play in the country right now," head coach Barry Goldberg said. "It's a great environment with knowledgeable fans. I'm excited."
American has been led by All-PL first team selection Cutrina Biddulph (Reseda, Calif./Granada Hills) who is averaging over four kills per game and hitting above .330. She is the school record holder in block assists and is averaging over a block a game. Biddulph was a 2004 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and Co-Player of the Year for the PL.
Fellow senior Jennifer Cosco (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) and upperclassman Elizabeth Maloney (Toronto, Ontario/Richview C.I.) have added valuable leadership to the team. Cosco is having her best year at the libero spot, notching a career-high 3.34 digs per game, which is fifth all-time in the school's single-season record book. Maloney earned her first All-PL first team honors this year with her strong play on the outside and on the serve. She is averaging over three kills a game and is fifth in the NCAA averaging .74 aces a game.
While the team's upperclassmen head the squad, the team's success is also attributable to its strong contingent of second-year and freshmen contributors. PL Tournament MVP Chelsa Brooks (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) saved her best matches for late, hitting double-digit kills in the last three matches. Freshman outside hitter Rubena Sukaj (Tirana, Albania/Asim Vokshi) is ninth in the NCAA in aces per game with .67 a game and is hitting a shade under .280 with an average of over three and a half kills per game.
Setting up the Eagles' attack has been sophomore Tara Stradling (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) and freshman Christina Nash (Princeton, Fla./Coral Reef). Stradling played her best match of the year in the PL Championship with 37 assists and 13 digs. The 6-3 Nash has emerged as a dangerous threat in passing, blocking and hitting. In PL play Nash is the only freshman in top eight in assists and blocks. She registered a three-game career high of 41 assists in a win over Holy Cross earlier this year.
American played a strong non-conference schedule against top-25 ranked San Diego and Long Beach State early in the year. In the middle of the season against conference opponents, the team reeled off 10 straight wins. With Saturday's win over Temple, AU won its 25th match of the year for the 10th 25-win season in school history.
The Eagles have made it to the NCAA Tournament the last five years and seven times in school history.
AU is 1-1 all-time against the Blue Devils. The teams last faced each other in 2002 at Duke with American getting the win, 3-2. The 2005 Blue Devils have won eight straight and are 23-7 on the year.
Stay tuned to AUEagles.com for up-to-date match information as it becomes available.