The Emory volleyball team will bring home its second consecutive University Athletic Association championship back to Atlanta following an epic Saturday win over host Chicago in the title contest. The top-ranked Eagles rallied for a 3-2 triumph (19-25, 25-17, 18-25, 27-25, 15-10) over the No. 2-ranked Maroons, raising their overall record to 29-2 while Chicago dropped to 26-3. The win allows Emory to claim the league's automatic bid to the NCAA D-III Tournament.
Mere prose would not do justice to the frenetic match the two teams waged which resulted in a combined for 351 attack attempts, 115 kills, 160 digs and 21 total blocks. After registering a career-high 19 kills in the semifinals against Washington University on Friday, senior Morgan McKnight established another personal best with a match-high 20 terminations (12th straight and 22nd double digit outing of the season), four coming in the decisive set. Sophomore Tara Martin hit .324 on the strength on 16 terminations, her 16th outing of double figures, while junior Leah Saunders logged her 12th double-double of the campaign, a 13-kills, 15-digs effort. The junior duo of Maggie Rimmel (0-4) and Finn Wilkins (2-2) each chipped in four total blocks, with senior libero Elyse Thompson aiding in the defensive cause with 27 digs, a number of which were outstanding efforts that kept rallies alive and resulted in Emory points.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the match, the Maroons appeared poised to wrestle the title away from Emory, serving for the contest with a 24-22 lead. However, three straight kills by McKnight quickly turned the tables and put the Eagles one point from forcing a fifth set. After UC knotted the score, another termination by McKnight followed by a Chicago hitting miscue, gave the Emory a 27-25 win and knotting the match at 2-2. The Eagles made the most of their new life in the final set, never trailing and using a 6-1 burst, highlighted by a pair of kills from Saunders, to claim a commanding 11-4 lead. The Maroons stayed in the hunt with a 4-0 counter that drew it to within three, but after the teams exchanged scores, the Eagles accounted for three of the next four points, all McKnight kills, to shut the door on Chicago's comeback bid.
Emory has now won nine UAA titles and four in the past six seasons.
The Eagles will find out what awaits them in the postseason when the pairings for the NCAA Championships are announced on Monday (Nov. 11) at 12:30 pm (EST) on ncaa.com.
Emory players rush the court after winning the 2019 UAA Championship with a 3-2 decision over Chicago.