American sweeps Georgia to score first NCAA tournament victory
DURHAM, N.C. -- American University recorded its first NCAA tournament win in program history, downing Georgia 3-0 on Friday night.
"We were hungry," head coach Barry Goldberg said. "We came in, we stayed focused pretty much the entire match. … It's a great feeling to finally win a match [in the NCAA tournament] but there's a lot left to go here."
American (33-2) notched four consecutive kills to open the match but Georgia was able to battle back within one, 7-6, on a kill by Lauren Teknipp. The teams traded points but consecutive kills by Juliana Crum and one by Allison Cappellino put the Eagles up 11-7 as Georgia called a timeout. Georgia got back within three, 16-13, on a kill by Stacey Smith and American answered with a Kristyna Lindovska kill for the 17-13 lead as Georgia called its second timeout. Back-to-back errors by the Eagles brought Georgia within three, 21-18, but after an American timeout Crum and Morgan Hendrix picked up a block for the 22-18 advantage. The teams traded kills but Kelly McCaddin was able to give the Eagles the 25-21 win.
American opened the second set with seven consecutive points, forcing Georgia (22-10) to call a timeout. A block by Hendrix and Cappellino gave the Eagles a 9-2 lead and American continued to pull away, going on a 4-1 run for the 14-5 advantage. An error by Georgia forced another timeout as the Eagles went up 17-8. Georgia notched back-to-back points out of the break but American answered with a 5-1 run for a 22-11 advantage sparked by a Lindovska tally. The Eagles were able to close out the set on a kill by Smidova for the 25-13 win and 2-0 match advantage.
American took a 6-1 lead in the third set on a block by Crum and the Eagles continued to pull away. McCaddin notched five consecutive points to put American up 12-5, forcing Georgia to call a timeout. A pair of Georgia errors sparked another 5-0 run for the Eagles and Crum registered three consecutive points for the 20-7 advantage. Hendrix had a powerful kill to put American within match point, 24-10, but Teknipp and Jasmine Eatmon came up with the block to hold off the sweep. McCaddin was able to put it away, though, and secure the Eagles' 25th sweep of the year with a 25-11 win.
Smidova finished with a double-double in the match, posting 37 assists and a team-high 14 digs while adding three aces. Crum and McCaddin tallied 10 kills apiece with McCaddin hitting a team-best .533. Hendrix had four blocks in the win. American hit .299 in the match, holding Georgia to .054.
Smith led Georgia with seven kills and Kaylee Kehoe picked up 19 assists. Allison Summers tallied a team-high 23 digs.
"We just take the weekend that we're playing. That's all we've done, just take the games that are in front of us and not worrying about what else is out there or what might come," Goldberg said. "The job is just to focus on what is in front of you and that's this weekend."