Five members of the No. 9-ranked Emory University volleyball team have been chosen to the 2018 All-University Athletic Association Team as selected by the conference coaches. Three Eagles were selected to the first team while two garnered second-team acclaim. Emory enters the upcoming NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 24-6 and is coming off a first-place effort at the UAA Championships this past weekend.
Sophomore Leah Saunders (Simpsonville, SC), highlighted Emory's selections by being tabbed as the conference's Most Valuable Player, the eighth member of the program to earn that distinction. The 5-foot-8 Saunders earned her initial first-team berth to the all-conference team, and has averaged 2.67 kills and 2.36 digs over 91 sets of action. The owner of 11 contests of double-figure kills and five double-doubles (kills/digs), Saunders is coming off a solid showing at the UAA Championships, hitting .303 (29-5—78) while registering 11 terminations against Carnegie Mellon in the semifinals and 10 vs. Chicago in the finals. She has ranked as the club leader in both kills and digs in three matches this year. She has come through with eight outings of 10 or more digs and is fourth on the team with 27 service aces.
Senior setter Mady Arles (Richmond, VA) landed a first-team nod, with her play helping result in Emory ranking second in the league and 19th nationally in hitting percentage (.240). Entering this weekend's NCAA Regionals, Arles is dishing out an average of 10.41 assists per set, good for the No. 2 spot on the conference chart, 22nd in the Division III ranks and 15th on the school's seasonal ladder. She has totaled 40 or more assists on eight occasions this year including a 43-assists performance in the team's sweep of Chicago in the UAA Championships contest. In addition, she is tied for the team lead with 33 service aces and posts an attack percentage of .342 (96-15—237). Career-wise, Arles holds down the No. 8 spot on the Eagles' all-time lists in both assists (2,001) and assists average (7.52 aps).
Senior outside hitter Karissa Dzurik (Columbia, PA), a key cog in the Emory offensive attack, was also tabbed as a first-team honoree. Dzurik has produced a team-leading 21 matches of double-figure kills and currently ranks sixth among UAA performers with a 3.22 kills-per-set average. The team leader in terminations in 13 matches this year, Dzurik earned the first of two UAA Offensive Player of the Week honors following the league's Round Robin II after leading the club in terminations in all four matches, ending with an average of 3.81 kills over 12 sets. At this past weekend's UAA Championships, she topped all players with a 4.56 kills-per-set average and blasted away for a total of 14 successful attack attempts in the title contest vs. No. 10 Chicago. Dzurik has registered a hitting mark of .300 or higher in 13 matches.
Junior libero Elyse Thompson (Tallahassee, FL) is a second-team pick for the second straight season with her stellar play a determining factor in the Eagles pacing the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.140). The lone Eagle to have played in all 100 of the team's sets, her 4.44 digs-per-game average ranks fourth among UAA performers. She has totaled double-figure digs in 26 matches and has seven outings with 20-plus digs to her credit.
After being sidelined midway through last year with an injury, senior middle Sydney Leimbach (Atlanta, GA) bounced back to earn second-team acclaim. A force both offensively and defensively at the net, Leimbach, has chalked up 16 matches with three or more blocks this year and is second on the squad and fifth in the UAA in blocks average (0.96 bps). She has compiled six matches with 10 or more kills and her attack percentage of .303 (183-59—409) places her 10th in the conference.
Freshman Tara Martin (Jacksonville Beach, FL) was recognized as the UAA Rookie of the Year, the second straight campaign (Saunders in 2017) and ninth time in school history that an Emory player received that honor. The 5-foot-9 outside hitter enjoyed a productive UAA Round Robin II, averaging 2.67 kills over nine sets and hitting .340 (24-7—50). She rang up a season-high 11 terminations in the finals of the UAA Championships vs. Chicago.
Emory's quarterfinal-round foe at the Mount Berry, Georgia Regional will be Meredith College, with that match taking place on Friday (Nov. 9) at 12:30 pm.