UD
Tomko

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Survive and advance.

That is exactly what Delaware did in the first round of the NCAA tournament against American on Friday night at Penn State's Rec Hall as the Blue Hens advanced to the second round for the first time since 2007 with a 3-1 victory.

Set scores for the match were 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, and 25-23 as Delaware got past the Patriot League champion Eagles.

“It wasn’t our best match, but we found a way to win and that is the important thing,” Delaware head coach Bonnie Kenny said, who has guided her team to its fourth NCAA tournament in the last five seasons. “Sometimes you have to win ugly and that is what we did tonight.”

The Blue Hens advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since the Hens defeated Princeton 3-1 in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament at St. John’s.

Four Blue Hens with double-digit kill totals led Delaware against American on Friday as Karina Evans and Alissa Alker each had a team-high 11 kills while Kim Stewart and Chelsea Lawrence each added 10.

Senior setter Renee Tomko, the CAA Setter of the Year,  ran the offense and came away with 43 assists, three kills, eight digs, and two block assists.

“We’ve been down before,” Tomko said when asked about the first set deficit and the late game holes the Blue Hens climbed out of in sets three and four. “We had to come back in both the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association] semifinals and the championship matches, so we knew we had it in us.”

American, which advanced to the NCAA tournament for the 12th time in the last 15 seasons, had a 10-match win streak snapped and lost for just the second time since mid-October.

The Blue Hens were slow out of the blocks, not having played a match since Nov. 20. Tied at 4-4 in the first set, the Eagles went on a 7-1 run to take control of the match. Kenny used both timeouts in the set, with the second as the Hens trailed 20-13. Three consecutive attack errors by UD put American within two points of the set, and they closed it out with a kill by Juliana Crum.

Delaware got off to a better start in the second set, forcing American to call its first time out as the Hens led 13-7. With UD leading 22-15, the Eagles scored six consecutive points to get