The clock struck midnight a few seconds before American University’s volleyball team mustered a national championship, but the Eagles 34-3 season was one of the greatest athletic accomplishments by any squad to represent the school.
In advancing to the NCAA East semifinal against defending champ Texas, the Eagles, ranked 45th, swept No. 16 Duke in the second round of the tournament. AU even claimed a rare post season match against the Horns before falling 3-1. It was Texas’ only loss in the regional or elite 8.
“Our whole team is really pretty special this year,” Head Coach Barry Goldberg. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We couldn’t keep up the level of making the kills...One more kill was all we needed, especially when we were down in the first game three or four. We came back there near the end. I’m proud of our first game effort, for sure. They just raised their level.”
The top-ranked Longhorns will hook up with No. 12 Washington at 7:30 on Dec. 19 in one final four game. No 2 Penn State and No. 3 Wisconsin vie for a shot at the national championship following. Both games, and the title game Dec. 21, are in Seattle.
Kristyna Lindovska was named to the AVCA All-East Region Team after recording 33 kills during the tournament. Goldberb was named the East Region’s Coach of the Year. The seven tourney wins mark the first tournament wins for the Eagles. Monika Smidova posted double-doubles in assists and digs in each of the three contests.
AU was head and shoulders above other teams in the DMV this season while winning the Patriot League title (15-1). The only blemish came Oct. 5 when Army shot down the Eagles 3-2. The team loses three seniors this year including Juliana Crumm who has been a solid all-around contributor for four years.