Nov. 12, 2010

Courtesy of Emory Athletics

ATLANTA, Ga.- The No. 1-ranked Emory volleyball team got off to a good start Friday evening in its NCAA Tournament Championship opener, earning a 3-0 win over Piedmont College in the Atlanta, Georgia, Regional which it is hosting. The Eagles of head coach Jenny McDowell racked up its 15th straight win and raised its overall record to 32-4 following a 25-15, 25-15, 25-18 victory over the Lions who closed the curtain on their season with a 20-14 ledger.

Emory ended the contest hitting 31.2 percent (44-15--93), its fourth straight outing of 30 percent or better, compared to Piedmont's .048 percent (21-17--83). The Eagles outdug the visitors, 42-31, and chalked up four total blocks to the Lions' three.

Junior Jessica McAlvany turned in a big night for Emory, knocking down a match-high 16 kills, tying her second-highest total of the season, and hitting a solid 35.5 percent (16-5--31). Sophomore Breanah Bourque rounded out the squad's double-digit players in that department, notching 10 terminations en route to a 50.0 attack percentage (10-1--18). Bourque also totaled four (1-3) total blocks. Junior setter Natalie Schonefeld dished out 33 assists and tied for match honors with 11 digs.

The No. 8-seeded Piedmont club, making its second-ever NCAA appearance, battled Emory on even terms during the early stages of the first set and led by a 10-9 count. However, the Eagles seized control of the game with a 9-1 burst, keyed by a pair of kills each by Bourque and McAlvany, to go up by an 18-11 margin. Holding a 22-15 edge, Emory closed out the game consecutive kills by junior Ali Wright, Schonefeld and senior Amelia McCall.

Piedmont tallied the first three points of the second set and held a 4-2 advantage before an 11-2 Emory run put the No. 1-seeded Eagles up by a 13-6 count. From there, the closest the Lions would get would be five points as Emory took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

The third set was nip-and-tuck early on and Piedmont trailed by only an 11-9 score following a kill by Heather Stafford, one of her team-high nine for the match. The Eagles picked up the next four points, capitalizing on three Lions' attack errors and a kill by McAlvany, to assume a 15-9 lead. Piedmont stayed within striking distance, facing an 18-14 deficit before ran off four straight points, capped off by a termination by McCall, bolt to a 22-14 lead.

With the win, Emory advances to the Atlanta Regional semifinal on Saturday where it will meet Washington & Lee in a 6:00 p.m. start.