The Emory University volleyball team won the program's second-ever national title on Saturday, defeating No. 1-ranked Calvin College.
The Eagles recorded a 3-0 decision (25-22, 25-16, 25-12) decision over the Knights, closing the season with an overall record of 30-6. The Knights wrapped up their season with a ledger of 33-2. Emory's win total represents the 12th straight campaign of 30 or more wins for the program.
Senior Karissa Dzurik led the Emory attack with 13 kills, her 23rd double-figure effort of the year, and posted a hitting mark of .310 (13-4—29), while sophomore Leah Saunders and freshman Tara Martin each contributed eight kills with the latter hitting .467 (8-1—15), her seventh match this season of .400 or better. Senior Sydney Leimbach chalked up seven terminations, hit .545 (7-1—11) and added a team-high six total blocks. Senior setter Mady Arles, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Championships, dished out 35 assists while adding five kills, a team-high three service aces and five digs. Junior libero Elyse Thompson spearheaded a solid defensive effort by the Eagles, leading all performers with a season-high 24 digs.
Emory dominated in all facets of the match, hitting .364 (46-10—99), its third outing of .300 in its six NCAA matches, compared to the Knights' .125 (29-15—112). The Eagles held a 58-40 advantage in digs and finished with a 9-4 edge in total blocks.
The first set was saw Emory hold a 7-4 lead after back-to-back aces aces by Arles, but Calvin responded with a 4-0 run to go ahead by one point. Trailing by a 16-15 margin, the Eagles used a kill by Dzurik, an Arles ace and block assists by Saunders and sophomore Finn Wilkins, to claim an 18-16 lead. Up by a 19-18 count, Emory put some distance from the Knights with a 4-1 spurt that saw Saunders record two kills and an ace, while Martin came through with a successful attack attempt, to push to a 23-19 lead. Calvin moved to within two points at 24-22 before a Leimbach kill gave Emory a 1-0 match lead.
The Eagles began to take control of the match early in the second set, snapping a 5-5 tie with a 7-2 run, with Martin dialing up a pair of kills in that run, to post a 12-7 lead. Emory maintained a five-point advantage before scoring four straight points that enabled it claim a 21-13 cushion. An attacking error by the Knights put the Eagles one point shy of taking a 2-0 lead in the match, and that was accomplished courtesy of a kill by Wilkins.
Emory put on a clinic in the third set, hitting .400 (16-2—35) while the Knights could only muster a mark of .023 (7-6—44). Emory led by an 8-6 count before blowing the set wide open with 11 unanswered points with Leimbach doing a fair amount of damage in that blitz with three kills and a block solo while Dzurik also came through with three terminations. The Eagles extended their bulge to 14 points at 21-7 following a kill by Wilkins before Calvin came up with three points to reach double figures. A kill by Saunders followed by a Knights attack error put the Eagles one point shy of winning the crown and Arles saw to that with a dump shot that found the mark.
Joining Arles on the Championships All-Tournament Team were Saunders and Thompson.
The previous Emory volleyball national title came in 2008.
The Emory post-match press conference -- http://vcloud.volarvideo.com/broadcast/embed/98732