NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Emory has advanced to the finals of the NCAA Division III Championships for the third time in school history following a thrilling Saturday evening semifinal victory against Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The Eagles boosted their winning streak to 14 matches and raised their overall record to 39-3 following a 3-1 verdict (26-24, 18-25, 25-18, 27-25) against the Pointers, who closed out their campaign with a won-lost ledger of 33-5. The Championships are being held in Newport News, Virginia.
Senior Leah Jacobs continued her exceptional postseason play, leading all players with 21 kills and finishing with a fine hitting percentage of .309. Her performance vs. UWSP represented her sixth outing of the year with 20 or more terminations while her attack attempts were her second-highest total. The sophomore tandem of Sarah Maher and Kathryn Trinka each registered 12 kills with Trinka posting a season-high .423 hitting performance and Maher a .333 mark.Junior setter Sydney Miles closed out the contest with her second consecutive outing of a season-high-tying 56 assists, while also coming up with a team-high five (1-4) total blocks. Senior libero Kate Bowman spearheaded a strong defensive showing with a career-high 32 digs that tied the fourth-highest individual match total in school history. Sophomore Sheridan Rice added a career-high 25 digs as Emory finished the match with a 92-85 advantage in that category.
Emory turned in a hitting mark of .275 (65-16—178) compared to the Pointers' .205 (59-21—185), the 40th time this year that the Eagles had outhit their opposition.
After splitting the first two sets, Emory found itself behind the eight ball in the third game, trailing UWSP by an 11-6 margin. Facing a 13-10 deficit, the Eagles rattled off four unanswered points, with sophomore Jessica Holler and Jacobs coming through with kills, to take a 14-13 lead. Emory led by a point 16-15 before going on a well-timed 4-0 run to take a 20-15 advantage. UWSP closed to the gap to 21-18 before the Eagles accounted for the final four points of the set to take a 2-1 match lead.
Emory got out of the blocks quickly in the fourth set, holding five-point leads on four occasions, the latest being an 18-13 cushion following a Pointers' service error. UWSP bounced to tie the game at 19-19 after a 6-1 blitz, and the game was tied at 20-20 before a kill by Jacobs, followed by a Miles ace, put the Eagles up by two points. A kill by Jacobs pushed the Eagles to a 23-21 lead but the Pointers used kills by Gabby Thomas and Alexis Hartman to knot the score at 23-23. A kill by McGrath put Emory at match point, but UWSP countered with two consecutive points that had it serving for the game and to stay alive in the match. However, a service error by the Pointers opened the door for Emory, which it took advantage of an attack error by UWSP followed by a kill by Trinka closed out the match in Emory's favor.
Emory will battle Hope College (33-2) in Monday's national championship match that will begin at 1:00 pm. The Flying Dutch earned their way into the title contest after dispatching No. 1 Calvin by a 3-0 score.
Emory's other appearances in the national championship contest came in 2008 when it beat La Verne for the title and in 2010 when it finished runner-up to Calvin.