No. 7-ranked Emory has advanced to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Championships following a win against No. 17 Eastern Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals. The Eagles upped their overall record to 34-4 after posting a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-20) victory versus Eastern who closed out its season with a won-lost ledger of 32-5.
Emory used a smothering defensive effort in securing the verdict, holding its foe to a .102 (36-23—128) attack percentage while finishing with a .218 (44-18—119) mark of its own. Head coach Jenny McDowell saw her Emory unit hold a slim 56-55 edge in digs and a sizeable 10-3 cushion in total blocks.
Freshman middle Jessica Holler powered Emory to the triumph, leading all players with 12 kills and chalking up a solid .435 attack percentage (12-2—23). It was Holler's 16 match of the season with double-figure terminations and the 17th time she hit .400 or higher. Holler helped frustrate the Eastern offense by coming with seven total blocks (2-5). Junior Leah Jacobs was the other Eagle to finish with double-figure kills, pounding out 11 terminations, her 21st match of the year with 10 or more kills.
Sophomore Sydney Miles doled out 33 assists from her setter post and added five block assists in the win. Junior Cat McGrath set pace on the team with 11 digs with classmate Kate Bowman and sophomore Taylor Erwin contributing 10 each.
In the first set, Emory had to dig out of a hole that saw Eastern score five unanswered points in taking a 16-11 lead. After exchanging points, Emory came through with six of the next seven points, with Holler recording a pair of kills in that stretch, to knot the game at 18-18. After an Eastern point, Emory went on a 4-0 spurt with Holler picking up a kill and teaming with Miles for a pair of block assists to claim a 22-19 lead. After a pair of Eastern points drew it to within one, Holler and Miles came through with terminations that put Emory one point from clinching the set. Eastern countered with back-to-back points before a kill by McGrath gave Emory a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set was closely played with Eastern staying within striking distance, trailing by a 14-11 count following an Emory attack error. Holler then helped Emory create some distance with a pair of kills, a block solo and a block assist as part of a 6-0 Eagle charge that boosted its advantage to 20-11. Emory held a 23-15 lead and then closed out the set with back-to-back terminations from Bowman and Jacobs.
Emory was never headed in the third set, using three kills by Jacobs in taking an 8-1 lead. A kill from Holler gave Emory a 22-15 margin, and the Eagles held off a late Eastern run that saw it creep back to within 22-19. Jacobs eventually closed out the contest with the match's final point.