Oct. 30, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Lengthy runs of points in all three sets allowed the American volleyball team to record a 25-17, 25-9, 25-23 victory over Navy, Thursday night at Macdonough Hall in Annapolis.
"There is just no margin of error when you play American," said Navy head coach Mike Schwob. "We played well in both the first and third sets, but you can't fall even a few points behind them and expect to be able to catch all the way up."
The opening set saw both offenses play at a high level. American (18-6, 10-0 Patriot League) went on an early 4-0 run to take a 10-6 lead, then used a 3-0 run to build a 18-12 advantage over Navy (15-11, 3-7). Those two sprints were enough for the Eagles to hold off the Mids.
Navy recorded 15 of its 17 points in the set on kills, while American tallied 14 kills and hit .462 in winning the set.
"I think both teams were happy with how their offenses performed in the first set," said Schwob. "The difference was American came up with some defensive stops to turn the momentum its way. A three or four-point run to American is too much to give up. You have to play point-for-point with them in order to have success."
The Eagles jumped on the Mids from the start of the second set. Navy tallied the first point, but American ran off the next nine to quickly take a 9-1 advantage. The American lead would reach double figures at 14-4, with its largest lead of the set coming with the final score of 25-9.
After hitting .294 in the opening set, Navy hit negative .125 in the second set while the Eagles tallied 15 kills and hit .400.
"American forced us completely out of rhythm at the start of the second set," said Schwob. "They dictated the play in the entire set."
The third set began with both teams battling point-for-point, but the last half of the set saw both teams go on sizeable runs. A kill from American's Claire Recht tied the score -- for the seventh time in the set -- at 14-14. The sideout by the Eagles sent Christina Nash back to serve. Her last serve would come with the Eagles holding a 21-14 advantage. The 7-0 run by Nash included a trio of Navy attack errors (one tallied on a block by American) and three kills by the Eagles. The American advantage would soon become 23-16, but that was when Navy made its move.
After posting a kill to give the serve to Navy, Aubrey Manes (Jr., Pratt, Kan.) stepped to the service line. Her opening serve resulted in an attack error by American, then Alexa Gibbs (Sr., Springfield, Ill.) and Jessie Sims (Sr., Etowah, N.C.) knocked down back-to-back kills for the Mids to make the score 23-20. After a Gibbs block and another American hitting error the score was 23-22. Sims recorded a hitting error of her own to take American to its first match point at 24-22, but Gibbs recorded a kill to return the serve to the Mids. Gibbs herself stepped to the service line, but her jump serve fell short of the net to end the 70-minute match.
After the offenses dominated play in the first set, defense dictated the third set. American recorded 12 kills and a hitting percentage of .095 in the final set, while Navy finished the frame with 10 kills and a .118 attack percentage.
"We were stuck in one bad rotation in the third set," said Schwob. "But we didn't quit and were almost able to dig ourselves out of the hole. Coming after how we played in the second set, I was very pleased with our performance in the third set."
Had Navy won the third set, it would have been just the third set during the 10-match Patriot League season that American would have lost. The first two set losses by the Eagles came during their five-set victory over the Mids three weeks ago in Washington, D.C.
Thanks in large part to its performance in the middle set, American held sizeable advantages over Navy in both kills (41-28) and hitting percentage (.304-.143) in the match. The Eagles also tallied six service aces to one for the Mids, with Navy holding a slim 30-26 lead in digs.
Gibbs did not commit an attack error in the match and led Navy with both eight kills (on 13 swings) and a .615 attack percentage. Teammates Abbie Merkl (Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Krista Eschelman (Jr., Germantown, Md.) added five kills apiece, while Manes totaled four kills for the Mids.
American's Rebecca Heath paced all players in the match with 11 kills, while Recht finished the match with nine kills and zero errors on 15 swings (.600) and with five block assists.
Navy now takes to the road for its remaining four matches of its season, a stretch that begins Nov. 10 with a match at Lafayette.