Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy of Emory

The Emory volleyball team capped off its storybook season Saturday evening with a 3-1 win over the University of  La Verne in the title match of the NCAA Division III National championship.  The Eagles closed out their year with a 35-6 record following the 16-25, 25-21, 25-17, 25-22 win over the No. 4-ranked Leopards who finished out the campaign with a 27-3 won-lost ledger.  The match was held at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan campus in Bloomington, Illinois.

Emory hit 28.1 percent in the match (56-20—128) while La Verne posted a 22.4 attack percentage (47-19—125).  Each team totaled 47 digs while the Eagles finished with a 7-5 edge in total blocks.

Emory had a number of players produce outstanding matches.  Senior middle Dani Huffman led a balanced offensive attack with 13 kills while finishing the contest with a 36.0 hitting percentage (13-4—25) along with four blocks.   Huffman registered four digs, perhaps none more important than one she came up with in the decisive fourth set that fell into the La Verne side of the court resulting in a kill and giving Emory a 21-20 lead.  Sophomore Amelia McCall banged away to the tune of 12 kills while senior Maggie Baird and freshman Alexandra Wright each came up with 11 put-aways. Freshman setter Natalie Schonefeld dished out 47 assists and sophomore Kelsey Krzyston and freshman Brannan O’Neill paced the defensive effort with 11 digs each.

Emory stumbled out of the gate in the first game, hitting just 11.5 percent while La Verne countered with an impressive mark of 34.5 percent.  However, in games two and three, the Eagles’ offense got untracked and hit 40.6 and 39.3 percent, respectively, in surging to a 2-1 lead in the match.  Holding a 19-18 margin in a hotly contested second game, the Eagles made the most of a pair of La Verne attack errors, along with a kill by Amelia McCall, to take a 22-18 advantage. The Leopards drew to within three points on a couple of occasions, but a pair of McCall terminations helped Emory seal that set.

Emory used a pair of kills by both McCall and Huffman in bolting to an 8-2 lead in the third game.  After the Leopards crept to within 11-9, a kill by Wright, combined with a pair of attack errors by La Verne and a service ace by Schonefeld boosted Emory’s lead to 15-9.  The Eagles eventually built a 22-13 cushion en route to taking a 2-1 edge in the match.

La Verne led during the early stages in game four before a kill by Wright knotted the set at 9-9.  The teams battled back and forth and the game was tied on six occasions as the scored settled into an 18-18 deadlock.  Eventually, the Leopards went up by a 22-21 count but Emory closed out the contest with a 4-0 run, the winning point coming on a termination by Baird.

Huffman was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament after compiling 49 kills, a 31.4 hitting percentage and 19 total blocks.  Also garnering spots on the team were Schonefeld and Wright.

All-Tournament Team
Dani Huffman, Emory, "Most Outstanding Player"
Alexandra Wright, Emory
Natalie Schonefeld, Emory
Christa Jones, U. of LaVerne
Brianna Gonzales, U. of LaVerne
Liz Schnelle, Ohio Northern
Erin Albert, Juniata