@AU_Volleyball Loses Tough Five-Setter at UNCG

Kennedy Etheridge with a set

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Aleksandra Kazala had 22 kills and 21 digs to lead American University, but host UNC Greensboro outlasted the Eagles in the fifth set to win a match Friday in the Spartan Spiketacular volleyball tournament.

The loss snapped a four-match winning streak for AU, which dropped to 5-4. The Spartans improved to 6-2. The tournament replaced an event at Florida this weekend, as AU and UNCG decided not to travel to Gainesville due to the approach of Hurricane Irma.

American won the first set 25-18, and the Spartans withstood eight set points to take a 31-29 win in the second. After UNCG took the match lead with a 25-19 win in the third, the Eagles sent the match the distance by prevailing 25-21 in the fourth.

UNCG won the deciding set 16-14 after there were seven ties and three lead changes.

"I thought we started well and controlled the first and second set, but gave up a lead at the end of the second set and the confidence grew in our opponents," said AU head coach Barry Goldberg. "This match went back and forth, and we ended up a little short. These were two good teams finding their way. We will keep cracking until we find our groove."

Friday marked the first time in her career that Kazala had at least 20 kills and 20 digs in the same match. It was her seventh double-double of the season and marked a career-high for her in digs.

Freshman Helena Elbaek had 13 kills and hit .400 for the Eagles, her first time with double figures in kills. Kennedy Etheridge had a double-double with a career-high 56 assists and 14 digs. Kristen Largay (21) and Aleksandra Sochacka (12) also had double figures in digs. Erin Swartz led AU with five blocks, while Kazala, Elbaek and Etheridge each had four.

Ashley Muench had 22 kills and 10 digs to lead the Spartans, who also got 17 kills from Holly Behrends. Three of her kills came after AU had taken a 13-12 lead in the final set, and Grace Howell had a service ace on match point for UNCG.

American will play Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at UNCG. The Eagles return home next weekend to host the American Volleyball Classic, with AU playing Princeton on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and facing Iowa (10 a.m.) and Howard (7 p.m.) on Saturday.

Tickets for all AU home volleyball matches are available at the Bender Arena Box Office. AU students are admitted free with valid student ID.