The Emory University volleyball program will be one of 64 schools competing in the 2018 NCAA D-III Tournament.
The Eagles will head to the campus of Berry College where they will compete in the eight-team Rome, Georgia Regional. Action at the Cage Center begins on Friday (Nov. 9) with four quarterfinal-round battles, followed by Saturday's semifinals. The championship clash will take place on Sunday evening.
Emory's opening-round foe will be Meredith College from the USA South Athletic Conference. Emory enters the Rome Regional as the No. 2 seed while Meredith is No. 7.
The winner of the Regional will advance to next week's national quarterfinals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The schedule for the Regional is as follows with times listed as Eastern Standard.
Friday, Nov. 9
Match 1 – 12:30 pm – Emory (24-6) vs. Meredith College (23-4)
Match 2 – 3:00 pm – Colorado College (31-2) vs. Washington & Lee (21-12)
Match 3 – 5:30 pm – Birmingham Southern (25-6) vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor (26-4)
Match 4 – 8:00 pm – Berry College (25-3) vs. Rose-Hulman (19-12)
Saturday, Nov. 10
Match 5 – 2:30 pm - Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner
Match 6 – 5:00 pm – Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner
Sunday, Nov. 11
2:00 pm – Championship Match
The Eagles of head coach Jenny McDowell are making the program's 23rd straight appearance (24th overall) in the postseason. Emory earned the University Athletic Association's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament following its first-place finish at the conference championships this past weekend. Emory swept all three foes, starting with Brandeis in the quarterfinals followed by a decision over Carnegie Mellon in the semifinals. In the title showdown, the Eagles captured the school's sixth crown over the past 10 years after bettering No. 10-ranked Chicago. Emory enters the postseason with an overall record of 24-6.
Head Coach Jenny McDowell, now in her 23rd season directing fortunes of the program, has a school and career won-lost mark of 739-166. Her record in the NCAA Tournament is 45-22. McDowell has led the program to five appearances in the national semifinals, a national championship in 2008 and national runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2014. She has registered a 45-22 ledger in NCAA Tournament action (Emory's all-time mark in the NCAA Tournament is 45-23).
Meredith College will square off against Emory with a 23-4 overall record. The Avenging Angels, led by 11th-year Head Coach Fiona Barkley, earned an automatic bid the NCAAs after winning their second-ever USA South Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, defeating Piedmont College, 3-0, in the finals. A key member of the MC team is junior outside hitter Caroline Corey, who was tabbed as the league's Player of the Year. The 5-foot-11 Corey leads the squad and ranks second in the USA South with a 3.63 kills-per-set average.
Colorado College (31-2), the No. 3 seed, landed an automatic spot in the postseason after claiming its second straight Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball championship this past weekend, defeating Southwestern University in five sets. The Tigers are guided by 21st-year head coach Rick Swan, who was recently named the SCAC Coach of the Year for the fifth time. During his stint at CC, Swan has compiled a 579-209 won-lost ledger while directing the Tigers to 21 straight NCAA Tourney bids. Junior middle Margo Spaethling, named the SCAC Player of the Year, is hitting .378 (320-75—649) and has recorded 93 total blocks (21-72). CC was the No. 4-ranked team in the Oct. 30 AVCA Top 25 Poll.
No. 6-seeded Washington and Lee will bring an overall slate of 21-12 into its quarterfinal round match-up against Colorado College. The Generals punched their ticket to the NCAAs via an automatic bid after bringing home the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship with a 3-2 triumph over Randolph-Macon College. Now in his 19th campaign in calling the shots at W&L, Head Coach Bryan Snyder claims a school record of 508-161 which now includes 13 trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Generals saw five of their players garner All-ODAC recognition including junior libero Elly Cosgrove and junior outside hitter Allison Webb, both of whom were chosen to the first team. Cosgrove is fourth in the ODAC in digs (4.47 dps) while Webb has pounded out 299 kills to go along with a .278 hitting percentage.
Host Berry stands as the No. 1 seed heading into the weekend with overall mark of 25-3. The 17th-ranked Vikings received an automatic bid to nationals by virtue of their 3-0 Southern Athletic Association (SAA) championship victory over Birmingham-Southern on Sunday. Junior Emily Hancock was selected as the SAA Player of the Year while freshman Laura Beier was chosen as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Caitlyn Moriarty, now in her third campaign as the leader of the program, was recognized as the SAA Coach of the Year for the second straight year, and will enter the postseason with a school and career record of 78-20.
Under the watchful eye of first-year head coach Rachel Sellari, No. 8 seed Rose-Hulman is back in the NCAAs for the first time since 2011. The Fightin' Engineers played their way into the postseason after topping Transylvania, 3-1, in the finals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, raising their overall record to 19-12. Sophomore defensive specialist Katryna Dahlberg was named the HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, and has team-high totals of 644 digs and 44 service aces. Senior outside hitter Bailey MacInnis is the team leader in kills (322) along with 46 blocks.
No. 23- ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor will square off against Birmingham Southern with an overall slate of 26-4. UMHB earned the American Southwest Conference's automatic bid to the NCAAs after defeating UT-Dallas, 3-2, this past weekend in the finals of the league's tournament. Rob Frost is in his eighth season at the helm of the program was honored as the ASC Coach of the Year for the fifth time. During his tenure with the Cru, Frost has manufactured a school record of 190-65. Junior outside hitter Jenna Gillean (2.96 kps, 3.55 dps) was named the Most Valuable Player of the ASC West Division and was chosen to last weekend's All-Tournament Team.
Birmingham Southern, 25-6 on the year, landed an at-large berth to the national tournament after finishing runner-up to Berry in the Southern Athletic Association Tournament. The 21st-ranked Panthers saw a total of seven players recognized on the all-SAA Team, with six being selected first or second team including seniors Jeneva Salter (3.50 kps) and Marjorie Ward (2.13 kps, 2.90 dps) who were BSC's first-team representatives. Second-year head coach Haven O'Quinn has back-to-back postseason trips to her credit, compiling a 45-15 won-lost mark in the process.
EMORY AND THE NCAA FIELD – Emory played a total of 12 regular-season matches against nine teams that advanced to this year's NCAA Tournament Championship, finishing with a 6-6 ledger in those encounters. The following demonstrates how the Eagles have done this year vs. teams that made the NCAA Tourney.
Illinois Wesleyan: 0-1
Washington University: 1-0
Carnegie Mellon: 1-1
Birmingham Southern: 0-1
Washington & Lee: 1-0
EAGLES RACKING UP THE HONORS -- The following is a list of various honors that Emory players have received this season
Emory Classic All-Tournament Team (Aug. 31-Sept. 1)
Emory National Classic All-Tournament Team (Sept. 6-8)
Karissa Dzurik (MVP)
East-West Challenge All-Tournament Team (Sept. 14-15)
UAA Player of the Week
Finn Wilkins – Sept. 10
Karissa Dzurik – Oct. 15
Mady Arles – Oct. 15
Karissa Dzurik – Nov. 5
Finn Wilkins – Nov. 5
THOMPSON CONTINUES CLIMB UP DIGS LADDER – Junior Elyse Thompson recorded 43 digs at the UAA Championships, boosting her career total to 1,219, good for seventh place on the school's all-time chart.
Heading into the weekend, Thompson is the lone Eagle to have played in all 100 of the team's sets, and 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.
ARLES RUNS EMORY OFFENSE – Senior setter Mady Arles has directed the Emory offense from her setter position, helping the team rank second in the UAA 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 and 22nd in the Division III ranks. She has totaled 40 or more assists on eight occasions this year including a 43-assists outing in the team's sweep of Chicago in the UAA Championships contest.
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). So far this year, her assists average of 10.41 per set stands 15th on Emory's seasonal ladder.
DZURIK AN OFFENSIVE FORCE - Senior Karissa Dzurik has been a key offensive cog in the Emory attack this season and will head into the NCAA Regionals the team leader with 21 matches of double-figure kills.
Last weekend at the UAA Championships, she led the team in terminations in all three matches, raising her season total to 13 in that category. In the sweep of Chicago in the finals, she hit .371 (14-1—35), the 13th time this year this year she registered an attack percentage of .300 or higher.
At the start of postseason play, Dzurik stands sixth among UAA players in kills average (3.22 kps)
Career-wise, Karissa has racked up 44 matches of double-figure kills and totaled 867 successful attack attempts.
NOTES - Emory has hit .300 or better in eight contests this year and has enjoyed an edge in that category in 24 matches … The Eagles average 13.54 kills per set, first in the UAA and 11th among all D-III schools … Emory doled out a season-high tying 12 service aces in UAA semifinal match vs. Carnegie Mellon, the eighth time this year it finished with double figures in that department … Emory is No. 2 in the UAA and tied for 27th nationally in blocks per set (2.07 bps) … Sophomore Leah Saunders totaled 10 terminations against Chicago in the finals of the UAA Championships, her 11th outing this season with double figures in that category … Saunders hit a season-high tying .417 (11-1-24) against Carnegie Mellon in the semifinals … Saunders has five double-doubles (kills/digs) to her credit this year … Saunders ranks 14th on the UAA chart with an average of 2.67 kills per set … Freshman Tara Martin registered a season-high 11 kills against the Chicago in the finals of the UAA Championships, her second double-figure performance of the season … Mady Arles and Elyse Thompson are tied for the team lead with 33 service aces apiece … Senior Becky Breuer came up with a season-high 12 digs and tied her season high with three service aces in the win over Carnegie Mellon last weekend … Career-wise, Breuer is No. 6 on the school's all-time ladder with 1,223 digs and has amassed 117 service aces … Emory has held the opposition to a .140 hitting percentage this year, good for the No. 1 spot in the UAA … Sophomore Finn Wilkins leads the team and is third in the UAA with a 1.07 blocks per set average, placing her 13th on the school's seasonal chart … Wilkins' match-high seven (1-6) blocks against Chicago last Saturday represented her 12th match with three or more blocks … Emory has swept 21 opponents this year … Senior Sydney Leimbach closed out the UAA Championships with eight total blocks, upping her career total to 254, good for 16th place on the school's career list … Leimbach, who has chalked up 16 matches with three or more blocks this year, is second on the squad and fifth in the UAA in blocks average (0.96 bps) … Sydney's 10 terminations vs. Brandeis in the UAA quarterfinals was the sixth time this year she finished with double figures in that category, and her attack percentage of .303 (183-59—409) places her 10th in the conference.