BETHLEHEM, Pa. – It was a thrilling back-and-forth battle, but the American University volleyball team fell just short in a 16-25, 25-13, 21-25, 25-21, 14-16 loss to Lehigh on Saturday.
The Eagles dropped to 24-6 on the season and 15-1 in the Patriot League after the loss, while the Mountain Hawks, who have won nine straight matches, improved to 21-9 and 14-2 in the league.
In the opening set, AU started with a 6-3 advantage, but forfeited all six points due to a rotation error. Lehigh used the momentum to stake an 8-2 lead, while American battled back to cut the margin to 12-11. However, the Mountain Hawks pulled away for the nine-point win.
American rebounded in a big way in the second set, hitting .410, while holding Lehigh to a .089 attack percentage. Though the two teams traded points early on, the Eagles outscored the Mountain Hawks 20-8 to close out the set.
The third set was another back-and-forth affair. AU's largest lead came at 18-15, but Lehigh came back to tie the score at 18-18 and 20-20. The Mountain Hawks then registered five of the last six points in the set to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
While American needed a win in set four to stay alive, it appeared the Lehigh had the momentum to close out the match, taking an early 11-6 lead. The Eagles responded with an 11-2 run to pull ahead and were able to hold off the Mountain Hawks to force a fifth set.
The final set was indicative of the entire match, with both teams trading points. After Lehigh took a 6-4 lead early on, American came back to tie the set, eventually earning a 12-10 lead. The Mountain Hawks tied the score at 12-12, but two more points by the Eagles, including a service ace by Cappellino, gave AU the match point at 14-12. However, Lehigh made the most of its home court advantage on Senior Day, scoring four straight points to take the set and match.
"Tonight's game at Lehigh was a top-level, entertaining match that the Patriot League should be celebrating with great joy," said American head coach Barry Goldberg. "Both teams played excellent for long periods of time and every spectator walked away with a great appreciation for the sport of NCAA women's volleyball.
"Our team had opportunities to win the match late, but Lehigh deserves credit for their superior performance. We hope to strengthen our game over the next few days of practice as we get ready for our league championship at home next Saturday and Sunday."
As the regular-season Patriot League champion, American will host the 2014 Patriot League Tournament in Bender Arena Nov. 22-23. The Eagles' semifinal match-up is still to be determined based on the outcome of this evening's Army-Navy contest.