ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Ashley Warren’s (Jr., Pennington, N.J.) fifth kill of the fourth set and 16th of the match accounted for the last swing of a victory by the Navy volleyball team over American, Tuesday night at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis.  The third-seeded Mids (15-11) defeated the sixth-seeded Eagles (15-15), 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23, in a Patriot League Tournament quarterfinal round match that last over two hours

“I think a big X-factor tonight was the support of the Brigade and the community fan base who packed Wes B tonight,” said Navy head coach Paco Labrador.  “They convinced me to challenge a call on the other side of the court that eventually was overturned in our favor.  The team fed off of them.  The crowd was a game changer.

The victory sends Navy into a semifinal round match against No. 2 seed Army Saturday at 6 p.m. in Hamilton, N.Y.  The day’s first semifinal match features top-seed and tournament-host Colgate facing No. 4 Loyola.  The winners will meet Sunday afternoon in the championship match.

Navy has now advanced to at least the semifinal round of the league tournament each year in which a full season was played (not including the 2020-21 abbreviated COVID campaign) since 2016.  That is the longest current streak in the league of reaching the semifinals in fully played seasons.

Additionally, Navy becomes just the third Patriot League team to defeat American three times in one year since the Eagles joined the league for the 2001 season.

“Everyone in the Navy volleyball community, past and present, has tremendous respect for (head coach) Barry Goldberg and the legacy of excellence he has cultivated at American,” said Labrador.  “In true form, he had his team well prepared and ready for tonight’s match.”

Credit: Navy Athletics

Set One

Navy tried to break open the frame as it took a 16-8 lead.  Just as quickly, however, all but two points of that were erased as American closed to within 18-16.  The Mids took four-point leads at 20-16 and 22-18 only to see the Eagles slice that in half at both 20-18 and 22-20.  An American kill seemingly made the score 22-21, but a video challenge by Labrador overturned the original call and Navy had increased its lead to 23-20 on the attack error.  The teams played sideout volleyball the rest of the way on a kill by American (23-21), a kill by Warren (24-21), a kill by the Eagles (24-22) and a kill from Warren.

Neither team hit the ball very well in the set as Navy totaled a .200 attack percentage and American hit .167.

Set Two

American had a much better start to the set as they turned a 7-7 score into a 15-9 advantage.  A service error by the Eagles (15-10) gave the serve back to Navy, where Jordan Llewellyn (Jr., Port Deposit, Md.) started a run that culminated with the Mids taking a 16-15 lead.  Navy would take two-point leads at 18-16, 19-17 and 20-18, but the Eagles ran off the next three points to take a 21-20 lead.

Llewellyn registered a kill to tie the score (21-21), then an ace by Rilee Sherman (Jr., Cibolo, Texas) gave the Mids a 22-21 lead.  Back-to-back American kills flipped the score to 23-22 in favor of the Eagles.  Julia Humphrey (Fr., Stokesdale, N.C.) knotted the score for the 12th time in the set with a kill (23-23).  Back-to-back kills from American’s Adelina Berisha gave the set to the Eagles.

American hit .295 in the set and limited Navy to a .184 mark.  Some of the limitations by the Navy offense were the result of well-place serves by the Eagles.

Set Three

The teams were within one or two points of the other through the first 20 points of the stanza.  American held an 11-10 lead when Llewellyn posted a kill to tie the frame.  Sherman dropped back to the service line and she promptly delivered an ace to make the score 12-11.  That effort started a significant run that pushed the Mids out to a 17-11 lead.  The advantage grew to as many as nine points before the Mids took the 2-1 advantage.

Navy had its best hitting set of the night as it hit .462. The Mids totaled 12 kills and no attack errors on 26 attempts in the set.  Warren led the way with four kills on six swings.  Defensively, the Eagles were held to a .167 mark.

“I am proud of the entire team for that set three bounce back,” said Labrador.  “That was a huge moment for us.  Our total team energy was as good as I have seen it.”

Set Four

With its season on the line, American had another strong start to the fourth set as it quickly took a 7-1 lead.  Navy slowly started to reel in the Eagles as the Mids were able to close to within two points at 12-10.  The deficit for the Mids remained within a reasonable range of no more than three points, with the last such occurrence taking place at 18-15.  That led to a timeout being called by Labrador.

A Llewellyn kill followed by blocks from the tandem of Warren and Anna Klemeyer (Jr., Sarasota, Fla.) followed by the pairing of Klemeyer and Llewellyn tied the score at 18-18.  Warren posted kills to end the next two points, Llewellyn added a kill of her own and just like that, the 18-15 Navy deficit turned into a 21-18 lead, which resulted in American calling its second timeout in a span of three points.

The teams traded sideouts (22-19), then a Klemeyer kill made the score 23-19.  Warren was blocked on the next play (23-20), but Jamie Llewellyn (Jr., Port Deposit, Md.), who would record nine digs in the set, notched her sixth kill of the match to take Navy to match point with a 24-21 lead.

American, who had never missed the tournament’s semifinal round and has won 16 titles since joining the league, fought back.  A kill by Berisha followed by a block erased two match points against the Eagles as the drew to within 24-23.  The Eagles served the next point, both teams had good initial offensive attempts, then Warren knocked down a feed from Averi Miller (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) that was preceded by a great dig from Hannah Hoover (So., Katy, Texas) to end the match.

In addition to the five kills from Warren in the final frame, Jordan Llewellyn added four kills.

Statistical Summary

Though the Mids posted just one more kill than the Eagles, 55-54, Navy enjoyed a comfortable .230-.188 hitting percentage advantage.  Defensively, the Mids had slight leads of 60-57 in digs and 12-9 in blocks.  However, Navy dropped in seven aces against six service errors and American did not record an ace while it registered nine service errors.

Warren’s 16 kills — and five blocks — came a little more than 48 hours after she played all five sets and posted 21 kills in a loss to Bucknell on Sunday. She also hit .375 this evening.

Jordan Llewellyn added 13 kills and Maggie Bodman (Jr., Northbrook, Ill.) tallied 14 kills.  Defensively, Jamie Llewellyn snared a career-best 24 kills.

“Both teams really thrived from the right antenna tonight,” said Labrador.  “Maggie’s slides behind Ashley’s savvy swings carried us.  Jamie had incredible range on defense.  She had touches on attacks that required all of her 6-1 length to keep alive.”

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