The Emory women’s volleyball team reached the championship match of the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships in Rochester, N.Y., falling to Washington University (Mo.) three sets to two last Saturday
The Eagles began the tournament against Brandeis University (Mass.) and came away victorious after three sets, winning 25-14, 25-9 and 25-14. Senior setter Sydney Miles led the team in assists with 32, while freshman defensive specialist Becky Breuer put up a team-high 14 digs.
“The two freshman who saw game time, Becky and [outside hitter] Karissa [Dzurik], played like experienced players,” Head Coach Jenny McDowell said. “We’re excited about what they did.”
Junior setter Sarah Maher and junior outside hitter Kathryn Trinka the team in kills with nine apiece, managing attacking percentages of .421 and .400, respectively. Meanwhile, junior middle hitter Shannon Nugent led the team in attacking percentage with .636 on her way to 7 kills.
“Sarah is playing exceptionally well. She has done a really good job,” McDowell said. “Kathryn continues to put up big time, steady numbers and the two of them have been solid for us all season.”
The team took the momentum gathered against Brandeis and turned it into a 3-0 victory over No. 22 ranked Chicago in the semifinals. The straight set win (25-14, 25-16, 25-17), was the team’s 20th consecutive victory. While Trinka set the pace with 10 kills, Maher, Nugent, Dzurik and junior middle hitter Jessica Holler each hit eight. Junior outside hitter Sheridan Rice led the team in digs with 12. With the win, Emory earned a spot in the finals of the conference championship, the 12th straight year the Eagles have played for a UAA title.
The Eagles then faced off against the No. 3 Washington University in the UAA conference championship, with automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III tournament on the line. After winning the first two sets 25-21, 25-17, Emory lost the final three sets of the match to fall to Washington. Trinka, Maher, and Dzurik tallied a team high of 13 kills; Miles provided 47 assists, and Breuer led the team with 29 digs. The game was Breuer’s seventh with at least 20 digs this season.
“We played great throughout the weekend,” McDowell said. “I’m super proud of our team. It has been an unbelievable season to date. We let it slip away a little bit, and our opponent stepped it up. We played a great two and a half games at the tournament, but came up a little short closing it out. Now all of our focus on is on the NCAAs.”
McDowell reiterated that she has a lot of confidence in her team as they head to Berry College (Ga.) for the regional NCAA tournament, and outlined how she hopes to see them prepare for the final stretch of the season.
“The team has trained hard,” McDowell said. “We’re in great shape, really fit, and I’m happy about that. We have great leadership and [are] peaking at the right time; we’re saving our best for nationals. To be ready for regionals, we just need to fine-tune some stuff.”
The Eagles will resume play this weekend, when they travel to Mount Berry, Ga. for the regional phase of the NCAA Division III Tournament.