Atlanta, GA-- Entering the final day of competition at the Emory Invitational volleyball knew that they faced a tough challenge in the form of two out of region opponents: the host Eagles as well as the Saints of Maryville University (TN). Despite battling hard the Ephs would fall to both foes in straight sets.
Against Emory, currently ranked #6 in the nation by the AVCA, Williams knew that they would need to play in a consistent and controlled manner to have any chance at an upset. In the first set the Eagles jumped out in front early, although a serving run by first year middle hitter Catherine Egan allowed the Ephs to close the gap down to 12-15. Emory would then show their quality in rebuilding their lead. Down 13-21 Williams used their second time out of the set, helping them to go on a short 3-0 run to lessen the lead to five points, down 16-21. The Ephs would be unable to close the gap any further, however, and the Eagles would take the set 25-17.
In the second set Williams proved they could play with their more illustrious opponents in taking a quick 4-1 lead. Emory would tie the score at 6-6, though, and go on a 9-1 run to take a substantial 15-7 lead. Williams rallied to bring the lead down to five points with a 3-0 run of their own, but it wouldn't prove enough as Emory went on a 10-6 run, nearly doubling up the Ephs in points to close out the set 25-16. Williams again jumped out to early leads at 4-2 and 7-5 in set three. While Emory would tie the score at 7-7, the Ephs would fight their way out again to a three point lead up 12-9. A short serving run by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller made it 14-10 although the Eagles would once again rally, tying the score at 16-16. Williams battled through ties at 17s, 18s, and 19s before a serving delay on Emory gave them a lead at 21-20. A service ace by the Eagles gave them a two point lead up 23-21, although Emory stayed calm under pressure in ripping off a 4-0 run to win the set 25-23.
Offensively Williams was led by junior co-captain Emily Doll, who had a team leading 10 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen had a further eight kills for the Ephs, while first year Katherine Lane would lead the team in hitting percentage with seven kills in thirteen attempts (two errors) for a percentage of .385. Defensively sophomore libero Emily O'Day led the team with 17digs, while classmate Miller was also in double digits with 10. First year setter Ryan Farley dished out 28 assists in the match.
Earlier in the day Williams took on Maryville University (TN). In a frustrating match that saw the Ephs struggle both offensively and defensively their opponents were able to take a 3-0 victory (25-23, 25-11, 25-17). Doll, Miller, and junior Emily Baratta all had seven kills, but it was the team's overall inability to keep the ball off the floor on defense and in serve receive that consigned them to defeat. As a team the Ephs only had 35 digs, and committed 18 hitting errors to go along with 7 service errors, giving a full set to their opponents consisting entirely of their own errors.
The two losses drop the Ephs to 7-4 on the season heading into a crucial conference match against Middlebury on Wednesday night. The team will travel up to Middlebury in search of their third conference win on the season and hoping to keep their unbeaten conference record intact.