The Emory volleyball team gears up for its first taste of conference play this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 30 – Oct. 1) when it takes part in the University Athletic Association Round Robin I. The Eagles will tangle with three league foes, starting with Saturday matches against the University of Rochester (noon) followed by a 2:00 p.m. contest against Brandeis. On Sunday, Emory will battle Chicago at noon. Serving as the host of the UAA Round Robin I will be Case Western Reserve with the action taking place at the Horsburgh Gymnasium and the Veale Center on the CWRU campus.
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Emory begins the weekend as the No. 3-ranked D-III program in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll. Emory has captured its last 11 outings, boosting its record to 12-1. The Eagles hosted Covenant College on Thursday evening and swept the Scotts, 25-15, 25-14, 29-27, raising their home record to 7-0. Emory is guided by 22nd-year head coach Jenny McDowell, who has compiled a school and career record of 697-154.
Emory's defense has been stellar all year, holding the opposition to a .140 hitting percentage, good for the No. 3 spot in the UAA. After seeing its first two opponents of the season (Johns Hopkins & Wittenberg) outhit them, the Eagles have enjoyed the advantage in attack percentage in the last 11 outings, holding six to less than .100. Sophomore libero Elyse Thompson has played an important role in that department, averaging a league-high 5.41 digs per set. Thompson has double-figure digs in all 13 matches, including four performances of 20 or more.
Offensively, Emory holds down the No. 3 spot in the loop with a .230 hitting mark. Sophomore outside Morgan McKnight, named the league's Hitter of the Week on two occasions this season, paces a balanced attack with an average of 3.33 kills per set, good for third among UAA players. McKnight has 10 matches of double-figure kills to her credit and has led or shared for team honors in that category on seven occasions. Sophomore Sara Carr has moved into the No. 2 slot on the team and eighth in the conference with a 2.80 kills per-set-average. In her last three matches, Carr is average 2.9 kills and hitting .285 (29-7—77). Junior Sydney Leimbach (2.64 kps) and freshman Leah Saunders (2.33 kps) have given the offense some punch while providing other contributions. Leimbach is No. 2 in the UAA in hitting percentage (.368) and second in blocks (1.07 bps) while Saunders is second on the club in digs (2.04 dps).
Ladi Iya (Evansville. '01) is in her 10th season in directing the fortunes of the Rochester program. The Yellowjackets will meet Emory with a 10-5 record that includes a 3-2 win at RIT on Tuesday of this week.
Fourth-year head coach Alesia Vaccari has guided Brandeis to a 7-3 record through its opening 10 matches. The Judges start the weekend with a three-match win streak that includes a 3-0 decision vs. Emerson in their last outing (Sept. 21).
Chicago, ranked 25th in this week's AVCA Poll enters the Round Robin I on a six-match win streak that has upped its record to 12-3. The Maroons, led by fourth-year head coach Sharon Dingman, defeated Wheaton (Ill.), 3-0, on Thursday.