Emory’s volleyball team pushed its win streak up to 13 games this week before finally falling against University of Chicago Oct. 1, the team’s first loss since their 3-2 defeat against No. 1 Wittenberg University (Ohio) Sept. 2.
The Eagles won 3-0 Thursday evening against Covenant College (Ga.), but the true excitement of the past week came Sept. 27. To begin the University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin I, the team, ranked No. 3 prior to conference play, won 3-0 against both University of Rochester (N.Y.) and Brandeis University (Mass.). But Emory’s 13-game win streak came to an end Sunday afternoon in a 3-1 loss against No. 25 University of Chicago (Ill.). The Eagles are now 14-2 on the year.
“The weekend overall was successful, although we would have liked to have come back 3-0,” Head Coach Jenny McDowell said. “The loss to Chicago was a tough one, but Chicago played really well.”
Emory geared up for their important weekend with a home game Sept. 28 against Covenant College, in which they handily won the first two sets with strong offensive play. The Eagles fumbled a bit on service and attack errors in the final set, but they still came out on top 29-27 to sweep the match. Junior outside hitter Karissa Dzurik maintained a .556 kill percentage, and junior middle hitter Sydney Leimbach earned 18 total attacks.
The games against Rochester and Brandeis blended together in the mind of sophomore defensive specialist Elyse Thompson, who dwelled on the tough loss against Chicago.
“It was an exciting weekend for sure, but I think we came in and weren’t ready for everyone’s best volleyball,” Thompson said. “We had a target on our back as returning champions.”
The Eagles had indeed won the UAA Round Robin I last year, but this year they only pulled out two victories.
Sophomore outside hitter Morgan McKnight was a huge asset for the team this weekend, as she had a total of 12 kills throughout the Brandeis and Rochester games.
In addition, freshman middle hitter Maggie Rimmel, who Thompson called “pretty dynamic,” assisted with great net work in these games. The freshman player ended the weekend with four total blocks.
In the Chicago game, the team started out strong with high spirits and skillful defensive play, which have been key factors to victories throughout this season. Despite winning the first set 25-18, Emory’s strong play began to fade, as they lost the following three sets. They completed the game with a hitting percentage of .045, the lowest percentage of the season for the team thus far.
Emory fell to the No. 4 spot following the weekend, while Chicago jumped nine slots to the No. 16 spot.
“We should have known that Chicago would want to beat us and beat us with vengeance,” Thompson said.
The Eagles will have another chance to show their skills in the UAA conference when they face Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.), Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) and Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.) in two weeks.
“We look forward to the next round robin in two weeks because I think we will be better prepared,” McDowell said. “I continue to be very excited about this team and the future going forward.”
Before their return to UAA competition, the team will face Oglethorpe University (Ga.) at 6 p.m. and Agnes Scott College (Ga.) at 8 p.m. Thursday evening. On Friday, the Eagles will return to their home court for a match against Maryville College (Tenn.) at 6 p.m.
Karissa Dzurik is a staff writer for the Wheel.