“About three weeks ago, after we had lost our third match, we all looked at each other and said, ‘It’s time for a win streak,’ ” Emory volleyball Head Coach Jenny McDowell said with pride.
And it seems that McDowell predicted exactly what was to come. With a total of three wins this weekend, the team extended their winning streak from seven to an impressive 10 games.
The Eagles played three matches this past weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin No. 1. On Saturday, the squad won 3-1 against the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and 3-0 against New York University. The Eagles finished off the tournament with a 3-0 win against Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Sunday.
Senior outside hitter Kathryn Trinka, one of four upperclassmen on the team, explained how the UAA wins were of immense importance in her final year of playing for Emory.
“When it comes to UAA, we play teams that we play every year, and it becomes a lot more personal. You go in and you see the same girls that you play every year. There is a greater sense of rivalry when it comes to these conferences,” Trinka said. “We tried to approach these games very disciplined…and I think we stuck to our system very well.”
In terms of the team’s successes this weekend, along with overall discipline, both McDowell and Trinka specifically noted sophomore middle hitter Sydney Leimbach, senior middle hitter Jessica Holler and senior right side hitter Sarah Maher as key players this weekend.
In the Rochester game, Maher made 33 total attacks, and in the match against NYU, Leimbach attained a .667 kill percentage. Holler maintained a constant presence on the court, securing a total of 35 kills for the weekend.
Watching sophomore Leimbach’s, or seniors Holler’s and Maher’s performances inspired the younger players, especially as the Eagles make their first UAA appearances.
“[The upperclassmen] are all very good leaders by example, and when they’re on the court, we watch how they interact with the rest of the players,” Freshman defensive specialist and libero Elyse Thompson said.
Various players and McDowell have in the past expressed their desire to achieve greater stamina during play as a long-term goal.
Even as the Eagles win 10 straight games — with a season record of 14-3 — they continue to work on improving their stamina.
McDowell attributed this extensive winning period primarily to the “little things” the players have been doing to improve.
Part of what has gotten the Eagles to their current status is commitment.
“They’re always asking us to set up the net on our off days and asking our strength coach for extra exercises. They’re putting in all the extra time,” McDowell said.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, the Eagles will challenge Salem College (N.C.) and Covenant College (Ga.) for their last away matches before returning home Tuesday, Oct. 11, to play against Oglethorpe University (Ga.) at 4 p.m. and Agnes Scott College (Ga.) at 8 p.m.