@AU_Volleyball Outlasts Sacred Heart in Five Set Victory

Photo: AU Volleyball beats Sacred Heart, 3-2, to open the 2017 Harvard Invitational

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - American University volleyball threw down a two-set comeback on Friday as the Eagles beat out Sacred Heart, 3-2, to kick off their three-match weekend at the Harvard Invitational.

The Eagles now sit at 2-3 overall for the season while the Pioneers fall to 1-3.

Leading the way for AU was junior Aleksandra Kazala, who posted her third consecutive double-double, fourth for the season, with a game-high 23 kills off of .429 hitting percentage and 11 digs. Sophomore Kristen Largay led the team with 12 digs while Kazala, junior Meaghan Donahue, freshman Helena Elbaek and freshman Olivia Wassner each tallied service aces. Junior Kennedy Etheridge led the team with 24 assists followed by Wassner with 22.

The Eagles had a strong start to the match, holding Sacred Heart to only 15 points in the first set.

The Pioneers battled back during the second set, though, hitting a pair of four-point runs to overcome a five-point deficit and take the set, 25-23.

The third set proved to be a similar battle, as the Eagles and Pioneers went back-and-forth with 15 ties and five lead changes before Sacred Heart pulled away for the 26-24 win.

The Eagles were quick to shut the door on Sacred Heart in the fourth set, starting with a 5-0 run and eventually building up to an 11 point lead off of a kill from Kazala. The Pioneers landed back within nine briefly before a kill from sophomore Shannon Webb closed the set at 25-15.

The Eagles and Pioneers went point-for-point in the fifth before a kill from senior Erin Swartz closed the game, 15-13.

The Pioneers were led by Liisel Nelis, who tallied 20 kills and 47 assists. Madi Pope put up a game-high 16 digs, followed by Cassandra Lew and Makayla Dole with 13 each.

The Eagles will return to Harvard's Malkin Athletic Center on Saturday to face Stony Brook at 10 a.m. and Harvard at 7 p.m.  

American's next home match is Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. against Morgan State. Tickets to all AU home volleyball matches are available at the Bender Arena Box Office.

For the latest on AU Volleyball, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_Volleyball.