With another big Continental Volleyball Conference win on Saturday, the collision course is gathering steam.
EMU's volleyball men, ranked No. 9 in this week's AVCA national poll, took down No. 15 Juniata by a final of 3-1 in Yoder Arena, as the Royals kept pace with No. 11 Marymount atop the CVC standings. Eastern Mennonite will host the Saints on Wednesday, with a special early start time of 5:00pm.
The Royals, 7-1 in league play, suffered their only CVC loss to Marymount, 8-1, two weeks ago in Arlington. The winner of Wednesday's match in Harrisonburg will be in the driver's seat in the race for the conference's top spot. The No. 1 seed earns the right to host the four-team CVC Tournament, which will be April 14 and 15.
No. 9 EMU 3, No. 15 Juniata 1
To no one's surprise, the contest against Juniata was full of momentum swings and great rallies, treating the Senior Day crowd of 243 to a thrilling EMU win.
After falling behind early in the first, the Royals rattled off a 5-0 run to erase the deficit. Then after giving up an 18-15 lead, the men used another 3-0 run to jump back up, 21-18. Juniata got within one, but EMU had the final push to win, 25-21.
Set two was close until the Royals used a 7-0 run to blow open a 17-7 margin. William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) had four service aces during the streak. The junior fittingly ended a 25-14 set with his fifth ace.
Eastern Mennonite led 8-4 in the third before watching the Eagles burst to a 23-16 lead. The men scored five unanswered to get within 23-21, but JC scored twice to stay alive, 25-21.
The Eagles carried the momentum into the fourth, scoring the first four points. EMU finally got even at 15-15 on a kill from senior Scott Brigham (Montpelier, Va./Patrick Henry). JC scored twice to stay in front, and still held the margin at 20-18, before the Royals took their throne. The men unleashed seven straight points to not only take over the lead, but also finish off the match, with Ragland hitting the back corner for the final kill, 25-20.
Neither team hit particularly well, as Juniata held a slim margin at .091 to 0.71. The difference came in serving, where Eastern Mennonite landed a season-best 12 aces against just six errors. The Eagles made 18 errors with only three aces.
Ragland led the way with 18 kills while tying his career high with six aces. Brigham added nine kills, three aces, three blocks and 12 digs. Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 32 set assists.
Kyle Seeley led Juniata out of the middle with 12 kills and seven blocks.
No. 9 EMU 3, York (NY) 0
The Royals then pushed their winning streak to four matches as they breezed past non-conference opponent York in straight sets, 25-10, 25-18 and 25-10. Interim Coach Ross Madden used the match to get a number of his non-starters on the floor.
Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) was unstoppable with 11 kills on 15 swings to go with 12 digs. Buller played as a hitter for the first time this year and put down nine kills. Dominic Zamiar (Midlothian, Ill./Oak Forest) landed eight.
Setter Sean Wright (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run) had 30 assists and four aces. Ragland played out of the middle in the match and racked up five more ace serves.
York was led by Akeem George's five kills and three blocks.
Before the Juniata match, the Royals honored their lone senior, Scott Brigham. The versatile outside hitter is ninth in EMU history with 731 career kills. He is also No. 15 with 422 career digs.
Coach Madden thought his team earned the big win over a good Juniata team: