WEST POINT, N.Y. – It took five sets to do it, but the American University volleyball kept its winning streak alive by outlasting Army, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16, 27-29, 15-12, in a thrilling Patriot League battle on Sunday evening.
The Eagles, who have now won nine straight matches, improved to 13-4 overall and 4-0 in the Patriot League, while the Black Knights fell to 7-11 on the season and 3-3 in the league.
Four different players finished with double-digit kills, led by junior Allison Cappellino with a career-high 22 kills. Cappellino also led four players with double-digit dig totals, finishing with 23 digs, while classmate Sarah Katz recorded her second career double-double with 15 kills and 15 digs.
Senior Kelly McCaddin added 11 kills and five total blocks, while senior Kristyna Lindovska pitched in 10 kills and seven total blocks. Senior setter Monika Smidova finished the match with a season-high 50 assists and 16 digs, while senior libero Megan Rosburg added 18 digs.
In the opening set, Army got out to a strong start, leading 6-2 before American came back to take an 8-7 lead. However, the Black Knights responded with a 10-2 run to take control of the set, holding on for the five-point win. Cappellino and Katz each registered five kills in the set to lead the Eagles, but AU could not overcome Army's .406 attack percentage.
American rebounded in the second set, never trailing against the Black Knights. AU held its biggest advantage at 22-14 before Army began to make a run, but the Eagles were able to tie the match with a 25-21 victory in the set. McCaddin and Lindovska were the top hitters for American, recording three kills each, while McCaddin also added two solo blocks, including one to close out the set.
The Eagles used strong blocking in the third set to claim a 25-16 victory, finishing with seven total blocks, including six by Lindovska. Cappellino led AU's hitters with five kills, while the Black Knights were held to a negative attack percentage.
Looking to close out the match, AU had a solid start to the fourth set, getting out to an early 8-2 lead before pushing its advantage to 16-8. However, Army battled back, putting together an 11-3 run to tie the set at 19-19. The two teams began to trade points until the Black Knights grabbed their first lead of the set at 25-24. Again, the teams traded points before Army closed out the set with back-to-back kills to send the match into a fifth set.
In the final set, the Eagles once again started out hot, jumping to a 5-1 advantage. While the Black Knights came back to tie it at 7-7, American was able to stay ahead. After another tie at 11-11, AU outscored Army 4-1 to end the set. Although the Black Knights registered a .471 hitting percentage in the set, Cappellino stood out for the Eagles with six kills, including the match-winning point.
"We were in a hard fought battle tonight against a tough Army team and found a way to succeed," said American head coach Barry Goldberg. "We're pleased with coming away with a big conference win on the road. Both Allison Cappellino and Megan Rosburg showed leadership through the ups and downs of the match."
American returns to action on Wednesday, when it visits Patriot League foe Loyola Maryland in a 7 p.m. contest.