Even with a loss to visiting Lynchburg College, EMU's volleyball women proved they could be a pesky team even when not hitting well.
Despite their attackers having a below-average effort, the Royals used quality serving and back row play, combined with one of their best blocking efforts of the year, to push the fourth-place Hornets in a 3-1 final. Eastern Mennonite had more service aces and fewer errors than LC, and nearly took their visitors to a winner-take-all fifth set.
Now 8-15 overall and 2-7 in the ODAC, the Royals return to the home court Saturday for a vital tri-match. EMU hosts Randolph and Dickinson, with the 1:00pm match against the WildCats holding a lot of weight in the ODAC standings. Randolph enters at 3-6 in league play and could clinch the final tournament spot with a win. If EMU wins, the teams would be tied for eighth, although the Royals would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with one ODAC match remaining.
The women will also celebrate their Senior Recognition before the 5:00pm match against Dickinson.
Lynchburg (15-5/6-3 ODAC) jumped to a quick lead in the first set Friday night and never let up in a 25-16 final. The Royals got some timely hitting to forge an early margin in the second. Tough serving kept the Hornets off-balance as the women led by as many as nine in a 25-18 win.
After a ten-minute break between sets as EMU held a serving contest as part of the Dig Pink Match, Lynchburg jumped to a 9-4 lead. Kate Kauffman (Pettisville, Ohio/Pettisville) had a pair of aces during a 6-0 streak, flipping the Royals in the lead. But LC used an 8-0 run to take over, eventually winning 25-17.
The Hornets scored the first three of the fourth, but EMU came right back with a 13-4 run to open up a 13-7 margin. The lead was still 19-12 as a fifth set looked like a reality before LC started chipping away. The visitors had three blocks during a crucial 6-0 run, changing a 23-18 deficit into a one-point lead. EMU scored two in a row to serve for set point, but the Hornets responded with three straight to finish off the night, 27-25.
Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield) had another great effort out of the middle, landing team highs with 11 kills and five blocks. Kara Smith (Hayes, Va./Gloucester) added 10 kills. Erin Brubaker (Goessel, Kan./Goessel) teamed up for five blocks, while Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) added three stuffs. Jasmine Johnson (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) had 20 assists to set up the offense.
Jalissa Linz led Lynchburg with 11 kills. Amanda Wrightson was in on eight of her team's 11 blocks.