The Emory University volleyball team captured the University Athletic Association championship on Saturday with a 3-0 triumph over Chicago. The No. 11-ranked Eagles boosted their overall record to 24-6 after registering a 25-23, 25-20, 33-31 verdict over the No. 10 Maroons who slipped to 28-4. Serving as the host institution for the Championships was the University of Rochester.
In a match befitting two of the top-10 programs in Division III, the squads entertained those in attendance at the Palestra with an intense clash that saw the teams combine for almost 300 total attack attempts and 134 digs.
Emory concluded contest with a .219 hitting (51-19—146) percentage while Chicago checked in at .151 (46-23—152). Both teams finished with 67 digs while the Eagles enjoyed a decided 12-1 bulge in total blocks.
After winning a hard-fought first set, the Eagles erased deficits in the final two sets in earning the school's sixth league title in the past 10 campaigns and eighth overall. In the second set, Emory trailed by a 10-6 count before exploding for an 11-1 run, highlighted by three kills from freshman Tara Martin and two each by seniors Karissa Dzurik and Sydney Leimbach, take a 17-11 advantage. UC did narrow its gap to three points at 17-20, before a pair of attack errors enabled Emory to go up by five points. Back-to-back terminations by sophomore Leah Saunders moved pushed Emory to a 24-18 lead, with Martin finally closing out the set with a kill.
It appeared that a fourth set was in store after the Maroons jumped out to a 15-9 lead in the third game. However, Emory rattled off four straight points, two coming off a kills by Dzurik, to draw to within 15-13. A kill by Martin cut UC's edge to 16-15, but the Maroons responded with four unanswered points to lay claim to a 20-15 advantage. The Eagles then accounted for three of the set's next four points to creep to within three. After a UC side out, kills by Leimbach and Dzurik, and a service ace by senior Becky Breuer sliced the Maroons' lead to one. After an UC point, terminations by setter Mady Arles and Dzurik allowed the Eagles to draw even at 23-23. The Maroons were serving for the set at 25-24, but block assists by sophomore Wilkins and Dzurik knotted the score, followed by Wilkins teaming with Saunders for another block assist to put Emory ahead, 26-25. After UC staved off elimination, another kill by Saunders put Emory up by a point and serving for the match, however, UC stayed alive with two straight points. The Maroons could not capitalize with a 28-27 lead, as an attack error followed by a termination by Martin swung the Eagles to a 29-28 lead. UC countered with two straight points with another opportunity to serve for the set, but kills by Leimbach and Dzurik put Emory in the driver's seat at 31-30. After a UC point, the Eagles finally sealed the outcome as Dzurik pounded out two kills.
Dzurik led a trio of double-figure terminators for Emory, totaling 14 kills and recording a .371 (14-1—35) hitting percentage. Dzurik ended the Championships leading all players with an average of 4.65 kills over nine sets. Martin contributed a season-high 11 kills, her second double-figure outing of the season, while Saunders rounded out the group with 10 successful attack attempts. Arles dished out 43 assists, ending the Championships by pacing all setters with an average of 11.89 per game, while chipping in nine digs. Wilkins was a defensive presence at the net with seven (1-6) total blocks while junior Elyse Thompson led all players with 18 digs.
The win over Chicago allows Emory to earn the league's automatic bid to next weekend's NCAA D-III Tournament. The Eagles will find out on Monday (Nov. 5) what awaits them in the postseason when the pairings are announced at 12:30 pm (EST) on ncaa.com.
Emory storms the court after winning the 2018 UAA Volleyball Championships.