Oct. 24, 2008
The American University volleyball team defeated Army on Friday night, 3-0, to take sole possession of first place in the Patriot League. The Eagles and Black Knights entered the match with identical 7-0 records in conference play. Claire Recht hit a career-high .857 in the win while Rubena Sukaj led all scorers with 15 kills.
"We had a strong performance from many of our key players and our consistent serving and passing put us in a position to win," Head Coach Barry Goldberg said. "Rubena Sukaj was a big offensive weapon out of the front and back row. We got good production from both Rebecca Heath and Cassandra Ricketts but most importantly our defense did a nice job stopping their top attackers."
American earned the straight-set win by scores of 25-14, 25-23, 25-19. AU took control of the first set early, jumping out to a 10-5 lead. The Eagles continued to cruise in the frame and used three Sukaj kills combined with solid defense to extend their lead to as many as 11, 19-8. Army attempted to chip away at the lead and closed to within seven, 20-13, but would get no closer. A kill by Rebecca Heath followed by two Black Knight errors gave AU set point, 25-14. Sukaj and Heath finished the frame with five kills and four kills, respectively, as American outhit Army .560-.000.
The second set was a tight affair which saw nine tied scores and four lead changes as the two teams battled back and forth. With the score tied at 12 apiece, AU went on a small run powered by a Cassandra Ricketts kill and Ivana Cebakova ace to open a 15-12 lead. The Eagles extended their lead to five, 20-15, before the Black Knights charged back and brought the score to within one, 21-20. AU answered Army's run with its own 3-0 run to move the score to 24-21, before taking set point on Sukaj's fifth kill of the set.
After the intermission, AU rushed out to a 6-0 lead on the strength of two Heath aces and two C. Recht kills. Army would chip away at the lead though and brought the score to within three, 13-10, at the midway point. The Black Knights would get to within two points of AU, 18-16, but no closer as the Eagles took control down the stretch. American used two Sukaj kills to build its lead back to six, 22-16, before taking match point on an Army service ace, 25-19.
Sukaj led all scorers with 15 kills in the match and was the only attacker to record double-digit kills. She added three total blocks and four digs on the defense side of the net while finishing the match with a .303 hitting percentage. C. Recht tallied a career-high .857 hitting percentage in the win as she scored six kills on seven attempts with zero errors. As a team, AU combined to hit .352 for the match as Christina Nash dished out 33 assists.
American held Army to just a .136 hitting percentage as the team recorded seven blocks and 34 digs.
AU will be back in action tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 25, in Bender Arena against Holy Cross at 1 p.m. as the Eagles celebrate Senior Night. Cebakova, Nash, Tessa Paganini and Sukaj will each be honored for their outstanding careers at American during a half-time ceremony. Live video of the match will be available via Eagle Vision All*Access by clicking here.