The Emory volleyball team fell short this weekend in the East-West Challenge in Claremont, Calif., finishing with a record of 1-2. The Eagles faced tough competition — the tournament featured six teams ranked in the top 30 in the nation, according to the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III poll.
The No. 6 Eagles faced three teams, losing to the No. 13 Juniata College (Pa.) 3-2 and the No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) (Calif.) 3-1 on Sept. 14. The Eagles closed out the tournament by defeating the No. 28 University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) 3-1 on Sept. 15.
In their opening match against Juniata, the Eagles suffered a 3-2 defeat, rallying for a 2-1 lead after the third set, but fell behind Juniata in the final two sets. The team took control of the second and third sets with stellar defensive efforts, capping Juniata to a combined hitting percentage of .101.
After the five-set game, the Eagles were defeated by host CMS in a four-set match. Emory trailed CMS in both hitting percentage (.211-.160) and total blocks (12-6).
The pair of losses on Friday marked the end of a six-game win streak, setting the Eagles’ overall record at 8-3.
In their closing match, the Eagles topped UT Dallas, winning three of four sets 25-22, 25-22 and 25-21, respectively, dropping only the second set 21-25.
Junior outside hitter Morgan McKnight led the team’s season-high 59 kills with 14 individual kills, celebrating her sixth double-digit game of the season. Senior outside hitter Karissa Dzurik served a .393 kill percentage in 28 total attempts, making a total of 13 kills, while both senior middle hitter Sydney Leimbach and sophomore right side hitter Leah Saunders added 11 and 10 kills each to the Eagles’ offensive campaign. Senior setter Mady Arles completed a career-high of 48 assists and a team-high of four blocks.
Despite the two losses, Head Coach Jenny McDowell acknowledged that the team showed great perseverance throughout the tournament.
“It was a challenging but great weekend for us,” McDowell said. “I love the way our team responded after the losses on Saturday. [Their response] tells me so much about the heart and character of our team.”
McKnight added that the team learned a lot from the weekend’s losses and emphasized the importance of finishing strong.
“We learned a lot of things about ourselves,” McKnight said. “We can work through our tiredness and bounce back from bad losses. We also learned that the game doesn’t end until the final whistle. Learning to be able to finish and terminate no matter the lead we may or may not have will be vital to our success.”
The Eagles return to the court on Sept. 29, where they will face the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and New York University in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin I in Waltham, Mass.
“We are definitely headed in the right direction with tremendous leadership and a deep desire to be great,” McDowell said.
Editor’s Note: Karissa Dzurik (19B) is a senior staff writer for The Emory Wheel. She was not involved in the composition of this article.