The fourth-ranked volleyball team proved unable to sustain the dominance of last weekend’s immaculate 4-0 performance in the Maryville College Invitational this past Monday evening, losing to the Flames of Lee University of Cleveland, Tenn. in a 5-game thriller. The Eagle’s record now stands at 4-1.
Head Coach Jenny McDowell, however, believes that her squad took positives from the loss.
“We learned that we can compete at the highest level,” McDowell said. “We have all the pieces we need to have an outstanding team, for sure. We just have to keep staying patient. We have a new team; we have to stay patient with each other.”
Despite the divisional difference between Emory (Division III) and the Flames, who recently entered Division II after being a longtime NAIA powerhouse, the Eagles hung tough, battled hard and led for the majority of the evening.
“The game against Lee was a really good match. It was a great testament to what this team has to offer and our potential to be a top competitor this season,” freshman setter Sydney Miles wrote in an email to the Wheel.
Emory won the first set 25-21 due to the efforts of team captain and middle hitter senior Breanah Bourque (three kills), outside hitter sophomore Cami Silverman (four kills) and right side sophomore Hannah Everett.
In the second set, however, the Flames handily defeated the Eagles by a score of 17-25.
Emory regained some control of the match after winning the third set 25-23. But with their backs against the wall, the Flames ignited in the fourth set, winning 14-25 and asserting that they were not going to fall at home.
The fifth set may have very well served as a microcosm of the match itself with both teams rallying and struggling for points.
Eventually, the Flames glowed a little brighter than the Eagles, winning 13-15 as Lee sophomore Marija Zelenovic ended the match with a decisive kill to go along with her 19 slams and seven digs.
“In the fifth game, we were really focused, but we came up short,” sophomore middle and outside hitter Kate Bowman said.
Bowman had 10 terminations in the contest, Bourque posted 14 kills on the night with a .385 attack percentage and senior captain Alex Duhl registered 11 attacks. The freshmen duo of setter Sydney Miles and libero Taylor Erwin continued to shine.
Miles was like an “unassertive” LeBron James by racking up an impressive 43 assists. Erwin dug deep for a team-high 14 digs.
It may be difficult for freshmen to become acquainted with college, let alone freshman athletes; however Miles has transitioned smoothly in college due to her helpful team.
“Due to [the] amazing atmosphere of the Emory volleyball team and the outstanding senior leadership, adjusting to the collegiate level has not been a problem,” Miles wrote in an email to the Wheel.
Even though the Eagles lost in disappointing fashion, they nevertheless loved the challenge of playing Lee and will use this loss as additional motivation.
“Lee is always a tough team. We came out strong with our senior leaders,” Bowman said. “[Because of this loss] we learned a lot. We just need to fine-tune, really. The loss fueled our fire.”
Despite their loss, the Eagles will continue to improve and march on towards November. Be sure to check out the ambitious matches tonight and Saturday.
“The goal of Emory volleyball is always to win a national championship,” McDowell said. “It will be a very exciting team to watch. We need as much student and fan support as we can get. The game atmosphere will be great. We need everyone’s support to be the team we can be.”
The volleyball team will take on Transylvania University (Ky.) tonight at 7 p.m. in the Woodruff P.E. Center. Saturday, the Eagles will face Averett University (Va.) at 11:30 a.m. and Berry College at 4:30 p.m. at home.
â€” By Zonair Khan