American Prepares for Third Round of NCAA Volleyball Tournament

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG Juliana Crum and American hope to keep their remarkable run going in the NCAA Tournament when they square off with No. 1 Texas on Friday in Lincoln, Neb.
Juliana Crum and American hope to keep their remarkable run going in the NCAA Tournament when they square off with No. 1 Texas on Friday in Lincoln, Neb.

Dec. 12, 2013

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — A week after making history - twice - Patriot League Champion American sets its eyes on a tall task when the Eagles take on No. 1 seed and defending national champion Texas in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb., on ESPN3.

The Eagles and Longhorns will meet in the first part of a doubleheader, with No. 9 San Diego taking on eighth-seeded and site host Nebraska in the second contest at 8 p.m. The two third-round winners will meet one another on Saturday at 9 p.m., also on ESPN3.


• American’s wins last weekend were the first for the program and the Patriot League in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The League was 0-17 dating back to 1996.
• American’s win streak now sits at 16 straight entering Friday’s contest with Texas.
• The team’s 34 wins are both a Patriot League and program record.
• The Eagles are 26-0 this season in three-set matches. They’ve won six straight and 13 of their last 14 in straight sets.
• Four players had at least nine kills each, with Juliana Crum and Kelly McCaddin netting 10 each in Friday’s 3-0 victory over Georgia (25-21, 25-13, 25-11).
• American hit .299 in the win, with just 11 errors on 117 swings. Monika Smidova had 37 of the team’s 44 assists on 46 kills.
• Kristyna Lindovska scored 13 kills and four players hit double digits in digs in the Eagles’ 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-22) win over No. 16 seed Duke on Saturday.
• Crum (21 digs) led the defensive effort, followed by Smidova (15), Megan Rosburg (14) and Allison Cappellino (11). Kylann Scheidt added nine digs. Smidova also tallied 35 assists.
• American forced Duke’s hitting percentage to decline as the match continued. The Blue Devils hit .163 in the first set, .109 in the second and .062 in the third.
• On Tuesday American junior OH Kristyna Lindovska was named to the AVCA All-East team, while Barry Goldberg collected East Region Coach of the Year honors.
• Friday marks the second consecutive year the Patriot League champion meets Texas in the NCAA Tournament. Last season Colgate fell to the Longhorns in three sets in the first round.
• The Patriot League is 2-0 versus the ACC this season after American’s win over Duke. Colgate’s five-set victory over N.C. State on Sept. 21 was the other.
• American is one of five unseeded teams to advance to this weekend’s third round. The others are Florida State, Purdue, Michigan State and BYU.
• Should the Eagles’ run continue, the national semifinals are set for Dec. 19 and the championship on Dec. 21 in Seattle, Wash.
• American has the highest win percentage of any of the 16 remaining teams in the tournament (.944).

Patriot League Notebook

American entered lands no Patriot League team has been able to explore with last Friday’s 3-0 victory over Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Not satisfied with just one win, the Eagles bounced 16th-seeded and ACC Champion Duke from the postseason with a straight-sets triumph at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Following 17 unsuccessful attempts in NCAA Tournament contests, American now boasts a two-match postseason win streak entering Friday’s meeting with No. 1 seed and defending national champion Texas.

On Tuesday American’s Barry Goldberg was named the East Region Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, while junior outside hitter Kristyna Lindovska garnered a spot on the All-East squad. Lindovska is averaging a League-leading 3.58 kills per set and sits just outside the League’s top 10 with a .287 hitting percentage. She was a first-team All-Patriot League and Academic All-League selection last month. Now in his 25th year on the American bench, Goldberg picks up his first regional Coach of the Year honor and has the Eagles with a League- and program-record 34 wins entering Friday’s NCAA third round. Goldberg earned his fifth Patriot League Coach of the Year honor before the League Tournament.

After being bounced from its familiar position as Patriot League Champion last year by Colgate, American regained the hardware with a pair of 3-0 victories in the League Tournament over fourth-seeded Lehigh and the second-seeded and defending champion Raiders to claim the 2013 title. American spoiled Colgate’s try at being a repeat champion while capturing its 11th League title in 13 years since joining the League in 2001. Eagle senior outside hitter Juliana Crum was named Tournament MVP.

2013 marked the third straight year in which American, Army, Colgate and Lehigh comprised the tournament’s field of four, though the seeds have shuffled a bit during that time. The Eagles were the No. 1 seed twice in the last three years, while Colgate claimed the second seed this year after being No. 1 last season and the fourth seed in ‘11. Army and Lehigh have also shuffled up and down the seed lines since 2011.

Being the top seed to the Patriot League Tournament not only brings with it hosting responsibilities for the four-team playoff, but also an incredible amount of historical significance. Every year since 2000 the No. 1 seed has captured the League title and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, with American running that streak to 14 straight years nearly two weeks ago. Since the current four-team format was adopted in 1996, the No. 1 seed has been denied the League crown just twice (1997 and 1999).

It’s been a season to remember for American junior Monika Smidova, who has bounced back with a vengeance since her sophomore campaign in 2012 was lost to injury. A native of Plzen, Czech Republic, Smidova was named Patriot League Setter of the Year by the head coaches on Nov. 19, and added Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors from the sports information contacts a day later. Smidova leads the League and sits 42nd in the country in assists per set (10.87) and is 10th in the conference in hitting (.289) while posting a 3.85 cumulative GPA as a business administration major at American.

No Patriot League player has finished a season hitting .400 or better since Army’s Jamie Clark in 2008, yet American junior Kelly McCaddin seems poised to do just that. The middle blocker leads the League and is 12th nationally hitting .415, which would stand as the third best percentage in League single-season history. She’s also one of the League’s top blockers with 1.01 per set.

Three senior liberos finished up their remarkable collegiate careers in the Patriot League Tournament, with each ending up among the League’s all-time leaders in digs. Army’s D.J. Phee finishes her career second all-time in League annals with 1,832 digs, while Lehigh’s Rachel Charles, the three-time Libero of the Year, graduates with the third-highest total in League history with 1,693. Colgate’s Caitlin Cremin finished her career in Raider maroon with 1,579 career digs, good for seventh all-time in the League record book.