Emory University has advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA D-III Championships following its sweep of Colorado College (25-20, 29-27, 25-21) on Sunday afternoon at the Woodruff P.E. Center.
Colorado College struggled to find its form early on, totaling nine attacking errors in the opening game. The Tigers' -.059 hitting percentage coupled with efficient work from Emory senior Morgan McKnight proved to be too much for Colorado to overcome. McKnight recorded six kills and a hitting percentage of .667 in the first set to lead her team in both categories and help the Eagles to take the first set.
The Tigers loosened up in the following frame and pushed the Eagles to the edge. Colorado was positioned to take the second game from Emory when the Tigers reached set point, leading 27-26. But junior Maggie Rimmel and McKnight teamed up to block an attack from Colorado senior Meaghan Hohman and subsequently swing the momentum in Emory's favor. The Eagles saw continued offensive aggression from McKnight, who added five more kills in the frame, but a huge contribution from Tara Martin may have been the difference. The sophomore outside hitter unleashed seven terminations in the game, which allowed Emory to outlast Colorado for a 29-27 win.
Each team swung with a high rate of success in the concluding game. However, after fighting off set point in the previous game, the Eagles appeared to really settle in. Senior Jordan Mullen converted nearly half of her attacks for the Tigers in the first two games, but Emory seemed to find a solution for the outside hitter and forced her into three attacking errors in the last set. Emory utilized a .351 hitting percentage, compared to the Tigers' .250, putting Colorado College away for good. McKnight hammered nine more terminations to end her day with 19 in total and an attacking success rate of .400.
Defensively, Colorado was anchored by senior defensive specialist Anna Gurolnick, who dug up 19 balls. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers saw Mullen accumulate 10 kills while junior Allie Freeburg had seven. Seniors Marguerite Spaethling and Lizzy Counts gave Emory fits with their play at the net. They combined for nine block assists, while Counts also accumulated 30 assists, as she handled setting duties.
Emory ended the day with 57 digs as a team, with three players registering double-digit totals. Junior Leah Saunders racked up 12 digs to go with seven kills. Seniors Sara Carr and Elyse Thompson finished with 12 and 17 kills, respectively. Freshman Cassie Srb produced 40 assists to aid Emory in advancing to the Elite Eight.
The NCAA Championships begin on Thursday and will be held at the U.S. Cellular Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
NCAA Atlanta Regional All-Tournament Team
Senior Outside Hitter Emily Hancock: Berry University
Senior Setter Hannah Talkers: Transylvania University
Senior Outside Hitter Jordan Mullen: Colorado College
Senior Setter Lizzy Counts: Colorado College
Junior Outside Hitter/Middle Hitter Leah Saunders: Emory University
Freshman Setter Cassie Srb: Emory University
Leah Saunders averaged three kils per set in the Atlanta Regional competition. The junior swung with a succesful attack rate of .211 through three matches. Freshman Cassie Srb was impressive in her first postseason appearences. The setter notched 13.10 assists per game in her 10 sets played and also added 16 digs.
Most Outstanding Player - Senior Outside Hitter Morgan McKnight: Emory University
Kills Per Set: 5.00 | Hitting Percentage: .414 | Blocks Per Game: 0.70 | Digs Per Game: 1.00