The Emory volleyball team closed out the regular season with a pair of Saturday wins at its National Invitational Tournament. The Eagles started off with a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory (14-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-12) over Wittenberg before earning a 3-1 triumph (16-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-17) over Washington and Lee. Emory now stands 26-2 on the campaign.
Emory finished the W&L match outhitting the Generals .259 (61-26—135) to .203 (38-13—123), the 25th time this year it finished with an advantage in that department. The Eagles enjoyed a 65-45 advantage in digs while W&L registered 10 total blocks to Emory's four. Emory spread out its attack with four players finishing with double-figure terminations, led by junior Leah Saunders who produced a match-high 17, her eighth consecutive and 17th outing of double digits this season. Saunders also added 12 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore Tara Martin capped off an outstanding day second on the squad with 16 successful swings and a hitting percentage of .400 (16-4—30). Senior Morgan McKnight banged out 12 kills while junior Maggie Rimmel finished with 10, her third match this season with double figures. Senior Elyse Thompson pocketed a match-high 24 digs, her ninth effort of 20 or more this year.
In the opener, the Eagles and Tigers combined for 355 attack attempts and 114 digs with the five-set battle just the third time this year that Emory had been stretched to the limit. Wittenberg jumped out of the gates early, holding the Eagles to a -.079 hitting effort while turning in a .273 effort in claiming an easy win in the first set. Wittenberg kept the pressure on, never trailing in the second set, en route to taking a 2-0 advantage in the match. The Eagles responded by hitting .283 (16-3—46) in the third game and making the most of a key 9-3 spurt that allowed them to take a 14-7 lead that eventually resulted in the eight-point win. The fourth game proved to be a turning point as Emory trailed by a 21-20 count before closing the set with five unanswered points, sparked by a pair of kills from McKnight, to knot the match. In the deciding fifth set, the score was deadlocked at 6-6 before three straight terminations by McKnight gave Emory a three-point cushion. The Tigers drew to within 10-9, but Emory accounted for the next four points that pushed it to a 14-9 margin. Wittenberg stayed in the hunt with a 3-0 run, but a hitting miscue ended its hopes of a comeback. McKnight led all players with a career-high tying 18 kills while Tara Martin totaled 17 successful swings. Srb tied her season high with 53 assists while chipping in 12 digs. . It represented the 16th time in program history that Emory had rallied for a 0-2 sets deficit to post a win and the first since two years ago to the day against Illinois Wesleyan.
Next up for Emory is a Friday (Nov. 8) afternoon meeting against Brandeis in the quarterfinals of the University Athletic Association Championships. Serving as the host will be the University of Chicago.
Emory National Invitational All-Tournament Team
Tara Martin - Emory (MVP)
Leah Saunders - Emory
Caroline Gard - Washington & Lee
Alexia Wolfe - Randolph-Macon
Paige Kucinic - Wittenberg
Laura Beier - Berry
Rebecca Erwin - Birmingham Southern