American Falls to Dayton, 3-1, in NCAA First Round

American Falls to Dayton, 3-1, in NCAA First Round

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In a back-and-forth battle, the American University volleyball team came up short in a 22-25, 18-25, 25-23, 27-29 loss to Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Championship Friday evening at Penn State's Rec Hall. 

The Eagles end their season with a 26-7 overall record. Meanwhile, the Flyers improve to 30-5 overall and move on to the second round to face fifth-seed host Penn State.

Senior setter Monika Smidova registered her third triple-double of the season, finishing with 10 kills, 34 assists and 19 digs to lead American, while junior Allison Cappellino added 15 kills and 21 digs. Junior Sarah Katz also recorded a double-double, notching 12 kills and 10 digs. 

While each of the first two sets started out evenly, Dayton was able to put together crucial scoring runs to pull away for the wins. In the first set, the Flyers broke an 18-18 tie, going on to take a 25-22 victory.

Meanwhile, in the second set, Dayton used a 9-1 run to gain the advantage en route to a 25-18 win, as the Eagles hit just .045 in the set. 

Set three was a close battle throughout, tied at 18-18 late in the set. This time it was American that pulled away in the end, fighting off Dayton for a 25-23 victory.

The Eagles started out strong in the fourth set, getting its largest advantage at 13-9. However, the Flyers put together a 7-1 run to take the lead. American responded, tying the score at 20-20, but Dayton scored the next three points to regain the lead once more. 

After the Eagles came back to tie the score at 23-23, Dayton registered a kill to get to match point. AU was able to fight off five match points by Dayton, but in the end, the Flyers finished it off with a 29-27 win in set four to take the match victory.

Dayton was led by Alaina Turner, who scored 30 kills, and Janna Krafka, who finished with 39 digs. 

"I'm proud of our team, to battle our way back after game two," said American head coach Barry Goldberg. "Our offense started to come alive in games three and four, and it was a good battle back and forth. I'm proud of our team's effort in giving everything they had to be successful.

"We have to evaluate this team for what they accomplished. At the end of this year, we're happy—not with the end result of not winning this match today, but with the end result of us being a battling team."