Eagles Split Double-Header
The sixth-ranked volleyball team played two games Tuesday, defeating Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) 3-2 before losing to Lee University (Tenn.) 3-1. The team’s record now stands at 16-3 on the season.
“I continue to be impressed with our team,” Head Coach Jenny McDowell said.
The Eagles’ first game of the night was a well-fought match against the Birmingham-Southern Panthers. The Eagles prevailed 3-2 (25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 15-6). The Eagles started off the game in a dominant fashion, winning the first two sets.
The Panthers came back with determination to take the next two, however. The outcome of the tense match ultimately came down to the final set, in which the Eagles bested the Panthers 15-6 to claim victory.
Senior co-captain and middle hitter Breanah Bourque led the team to victory with 17 kills, followed by sophomore middle hitter and outside hitter Kate Bowman with 14. Freshman setter Sydney Miles contributed to the win with 41 assists. Freshman libero Taylor Erwin led defense with 25 digs; sophomore Cami Silverman added 16 digs.
McDowell had mixed feelings about the game.
“We played well enough to win, but it definitely was not one of our better matches,” McDowell said.
Without much rest, the team headed into its second game of the night against the Lee University Flames. The match ended with of the Eagles losing 3-1 (24-26, 25-16, 20-25, 22-25).
The first set was extremely close, with the lead going back and forth between the Eagles and the Flames until at the score was tied at 24. The Flames then scored the next two points to take the first set.
The Eagles won the next set, finishing ahead of the Flames by nine points. Lee, besting Emory by five points, took the third set. The fourth set determined the game, and Lee, winning by three points, took the match.
Sophomore outside hitter Leah Jacobs led the way with 13 kills, followed by Silverman, senior co-captain and middle hitter Alex Duhl and sophomore right side hitter Hannah Everett with 12, 12 and 10 kills respectively. Sophomore setter Dana Holt contributed 41 sets. Erwin again led in digs with 23, followed by Holt with 16 and Silverman with 14.
“This was a difficult match for us because it was back-to-back with a five game match,” McDowell said. “We were able to change things up with our lineup, and some people really stepped up and played well.”
McDowell refused to let the second game’s disappointing outcome dampen her team’s spirit.
“I thought we played well enough to win, but we allowed Lee to get runs of points with strings of unforced errors on our side,” she said. “We will learn from this match and be better for it.”
The game against Lee ended the sixth consecutive match held on the Eagles’ home court, the first of which started with a doubleheader on Friday.
The ability to consistently perform on the court while juggling classes and extracurricular activities says a lot about the strength and endurance of McDowell’s team.
“Although it can be a lot to juggle, it is important to just focus on what is happening right then and not worry about external things,” Miles said. “Basically, once we step on the court, it’s all about volleyball, and that helps a lot.”
McDowell remarked that communication is key in order to keep her team healthy and in shape.
“We try to keep a pulse on how they are feeling physically and mentally,” she said. “That’s why we gave them [Wednesday] off of practice; they needed the rest and time to focus on their schoolwork. We also talk with our captains daily, and they let us know how the team is feeling.”
The small break from volleyball will give the team time to relax and regroup before they continue training for their University Athletic Association (UAA) Conference games that start on Saturday.
“This is a very special part of the season,” McDowell said. “We will be ready.”
The Eagle’s next games begin on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10:30 a.m. The weekend will start with a match against New York University and will be hosted by University of Chicago (Ill.).
— By Jenna Kingsley