Volleyball Puts Finishing Touches on 25-5 Season, Sets to Host UAA Tourney

Freshman right side hitter Leah Saunders aims for a kill at the Emory Invitational Oct 27 to 28. The Eagles swept all four matches at home. Parth Mody/Photo Editor

With a six-game win streak spurring their record to 25-5 on the season, another regular season is officially in the books for the Emory volleyball team.

The Eagles concluded the month with four wins at the Emory Invitational. The Eagles dispatched Washington and Lee University (Va.) 3-0 and Randolph-Macon College (Va.) 3-2 Oct. 27 before retiring Berry College (Ga.) 3-0 and Webster University (Mo.) 3-0 Oct. 28. The wins contributed to the Eagles’ home record for the season, which stands at 13-0.

Despite a seemingly swift victory over Washington and Lee, the Eagles fought hard for 25 wins. Net work from junior outside hitter Karissa Dzurik and freshman right side Leah Saunders helped the Eagles push past the Generals. Saunders and Dzurik each had 20 attacks in the match.

While the scoreboard came dangerously close to a tie during some of the weekend’s matches, Head Coach Jenny McDowell said that she wouldn’t change a thing regarding her team’s performance.

The Eagle defense gets set at the Emory Invitational. Parth Mody/Photo Editor

“Randolph-Macon — they’re really good,” McDowell said. “But I thought we just kept on getting better.”

The Eagles lost 24-20 against Randolph-Macon, losing the final point of the set on a service error. Emory won the second set 25-18 and the third 25-21, but Randolph-Macon came back in the fourth to win 25-17. The Eagles crushed their opponent 15-6 in the final set. Sophomore defensive specialist Elyse Thompson had 33 digs and junior defensive specialist Mila Barzdukas had 13.

McDowell said it was also important for the team to beat Berry 3-0 after they had suffered a tough loss to the Vikings earlier this month.

The Eagles took advantage of the third game to exact their revenge. Emory swiftly took the first two sets from Berry, winning 25-21 and 26-19, respectively. Sophomore outside hitter Sara Carr had 48 total attacks and 14 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Morgan McKnight posted a .429 kill percentage.

Dzurik stepped back onto the court this past weekend after staying on the sidelines for the majority of the season due to a calf injury.

“We got [Dzurik] back and that was huge for us,” McDowell said. “She had been working so hard in rehab, and she is finally back to being herself.”

Dzurik typically plays as an outside hitter for the Eagles but played right side this past weekend as part of the Eagles’ rearrangement due to various team members’ injuries. Carr said that she is excited about Dzurik’s return, particularly given Dzurik’s versatility and talent.

“It’s awesome to have [Dzurik] back,” Carr said. “She’s a good hitter, and her playing right side is really helping us.”

For the Eagles’ final game of the weekend, Emory managed to hold Webster to below 20 points in each set. Dzurik maintained a .571 kill percentage, and the team as a whole hit .396. Thompson’s 16 digs increased her season total to 521.

The Webster win concluded the regular season for the Eagles. Reflecting on the successful finish and all her team’s accomplishments, Carr said she looks forward to the postseason to finish what the team has started.

“I just can’t believe we’re already here,” Carr said. “This is what we’ve been talking about all season, ever since the summer, and now it’s crazy that we’re actually at this point.”

Last weekend’s results determined the Emory National Invitational Tournament team, which includes three Emory players: Carr, Thompson and McKnight. Carr was named MVP of the Invitational team.

The Eagles will host the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships at home Nov. 3 and 4. Emory will play Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) at 2 p.m. and Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. Emory will host the championship game Nov. 4, at 1 p.m.

Karissa Dzurik is a staff writer for the Wheel.

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