Nov. 20, 2010


By Jim Faasen
Special to

In front of a vastly pro-Bears crowd, the Emory University Eagles overpowered Washington University 18-25, 29-27, 25-21, 25-20 to win a Division III national semifinal at the Field house on the Washington University campus Saturday.

"We have so much respect for their program and their players and their coaching staff," said Emory coach Jenny McDowell. "We know every time we get on the court with them, it's just going to be a battle. I thought both teams played at a really high level. Our team just persevered."

Emory will play Calvin College, a five-set winner over Juniata in the first semifinal, in the national championship game on Monday at 2 p.m. CT. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday, but was changed due to religious commitments by Calvin College.

Bolstered by a four-point run, Washington University (35-4) took the first game 25-18, but Emory fought back to tie the match at a game apiece. The game featured a comeback by the Bears that proved all for naught as Emory won the game 29-27.

Down 16-11, Washington University rallied to tie the game at 21 on kills by Tessa Blood and Jennifer Varriano.

But Emorys Breanah Bourque recorded her sixth kill to end the game, 29-27.

In the third game, the teams went back-and-forth with Emory jumping ahead only to have Washington University (35-4) catch up.

Alexandra Wright blocked a shot to put the Eagles up, 21-18, and the Eagles closed out the game to go ahead, two games to one before Emory sealed the match in the fourth game.

The fourth game belonged largely to Bourque, who scored nine of match-high 24 kills en route to a 25-20 win.

"We could tell that they were kind of down," Emory's Amelia McCall said. "We were all in with us, though. We weren't too focused on what was going on the other side, we were worried about us."

After a Drew Hargrave kill made the score 21-20 Emory, Bourque had two key kills, including the game- and match-winner.

"Breanah is just a competitor," McDowell said. "I remember one of the very first meetings she said 'you can count on me' and I remember that sentence. She's done it time after time after time. Those last five points were unbelievable - the intensity and the rally."