After two quality losses on Friday, the Royals stepped up their defense and serving to earn a pair of wins at day two of the EMU Invitational. After an impressive win over a good Methodist team to the start the day, EMU rolled over Mary Baldwin to even their season record at 2-2.
The Royals head to Southern Virginia University on Tuesday for their first road match of 2017 before heading to the Cleveland, Ohio, area for a two-day classic next weekend.
EMU 3, Methodist 2
The opening set of the day set the tone for an incredible match. Methodist slowly worked out to a 17-11 cushion before a 7-0 run from the Royals flipped the home team into the lead. The teams were tied at 23-23 and 24-24 before EMU scored two in a row to grab a 26-24 decision.
The Monarchs took a 4-1 edge early in the second and held a small lead much of the way. The women snuck in front at 24-23 but two straight MU points put the Royals at a disadvantage. The women fended off six set points before Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) swatted a pair of kills during a 3-0 spurt, handing EMU a 32-30 win.
Methodist held an early lead in the third and held off a late charge from the Royals to stay alive with a 25-21 decision. EMU surged in front 8-2 to start the fourth, only to give up a 10-2 run and fall in a 12-10 hole. The Monarchs used another small run to gain a cushion and win the set, 25-20.
The fifth set belonged to the Royals, as they opened with the first two points. A 5-0 streak gave them a 7-1 lead and thoughts of a quick win. Methodist cut the lead to 7-6, only to have Eastern Mennonite answer with a 5-0 run of their own to rebuild a 12-6 cushion. That was too much for the Monarchs to recover from, as Ginny Sorrell (Spotsylvania, Va./Spotsylvania) finished off the victory with an ace, closing a 15-8 clincher.
The Royals had four players hit double figures in kills in the marathon match. Amy Goodman (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian) had 11 kills and 10 digs, while Erin Brubaker (Goessel, Kan./Goessel) also had 11 kills. EMU's two middles, Hoskins and Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield), each had 10 kills and four blocks assists. Yoder added a solo stuff.
Libero Skyler Johnson (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) had 28 digs and three of EMU's 12 aces. Goodman also had three aces.
Maggie Harris led Methodist with 22 kills and 14 digs while Lili Henry added 19 kills and 22 digs.
EMU 3, Mary Baldwin 0
The women closed their play at the EMU Invitational by taking on Mary Baldwin University. Coach Carrie Bert took the opportunity to work in some of her younger players, who still drew the sweep. Set scores were 25-12, 25-8 and 25-8.
The Royals broke the team record for service aces in a match, dropping 24 to break the 16-year-old record of 23 aces. Eight women had at least one ace, led by Meredith Stinnette (Lynch Station, Va./Altavista), who racked up a career-best 10 aces. Sorrell added four.
Kara Smith (Hayes, Va./Gloucester) led a very balanced offense with four kills while Brubaker landed three on just six swings.
In voting done by coaches throughout the invite, Skyler Johnson named to the EMU Invitational All-Tournament Team. The senior libero was a dominant force in the Royals defense, averaging 5.91 digs/set over the two days. She had 23 or more digs in two of her three matches: 23 in the three-setter against Salem and a season high 28 against Methodist.
She was joined on the team by: Patricia Martinez from Catholic, Mesa Willis from Lynchburg, Brittany Sharon from Mary Baldwin, Cassidy Hayes from Methodist and Maggie Hawks from Salem.