VILLANOVA, Pa. - In its second match against a top-10 team this season, the American University volleyball squad dropped a 3-1 decision to third-ranked Penn State Friday afternoon at the Villanova Classic. The Eagles were able to hold on for a 26-24 victory in the first set, but dropped the next three sets, 25-8, 25-14, 25-16.
A 9-1 run in the first set gave American a 15-10 advantage over the defending national champions, and the Eagles remained on top, leading 24-20 late in the set. Although Penn State scored four straight points to tie the set at 24-24, a kill by Sarah Katz and an attacking error by the Nittany Lions gave American the win.
Katz led the way for American in the first set with five kills, as the team hit .273. Meanwhile, Penn State committed nine attack errors in the set, hitting just .098.
Penn State turned things around in the second set, improving its attack percentage to .600, while scoring five service aces. The Nittany Lions closed out the set on a 13-2 run, as AU recorded just four kills in the set. Meanwhile, attacking errors doomed the Eagles in the third set, as they registered a negative attack percentage.
In the final set, Penn State got out to an 8-1 lead and retained its advantage throughout. Again, the Nittany Lions took advantage of its strong serving, recording six service aces.
“Our players knew we were ready for a tough competition with last year’s national champion, so I was pleased our team stayed strong and remained patient throughout the first set,” stated American head coach Barry Goldberg. “Our attacking was consistent in set one, as we found a way to make plays at the end and win. Unfortunately, we failed to regain this momentum as [Penn State] served, passed and hit their way to control the rest of the match.”
Katz was the top performer for the Eagles, finishing with nine kills, while Allison Cappellino added six kills and 13 digs. For the Nittany Lions, Ali Frantti recorded 12 kills, while Micha Hancock scored eight service aces.
“We are getting better with each game and, with a little more polish, I believe our team has the elements to have a very good season,” said Goldberg.
American concludes competition at the Villanova Classic tomorrow with two more matches, facing 24th-ranked Kansas at 10:00 a.m., while taking on the host Wildcats at 2:00 p.m.