DUBUQUE, IA – The Lady Eagles volleyball team has been waiting for this day all season – a chance to finally play a match that didn't involve stepping out of a van prior to the start. Looking to rebound from their performance earlier in the week, the Emmaus squad wasted no time in finding a great rhythm against their first MCCC opponent, the Ozark Lady Ambassadors (8-3, 4-0 MCCC). The Lady Eagles controlled the tempo in the first two sets, coming away with 25-18 victories in each. "We played some inspired volleyball and put them on their heels a bit," commented Coach Pitman. "We knew that Ozark was not going to lie down and give us the match, and expected them to push us even harder in set three."
The Lady Ambassadors established a more consistent effort in the third set and both teams battled back and forth for control. The Lady Eagles experienced a large blow to the team in the last third of the set, as middle blocker Chelsea Smith went down with a lower body injury. Smith, currently leading the team in kills, hitting percentage, and blocks, struggled to finish out the set and then was unable to continue for the rest of the match. Ozark took the set 19-25.
With a reconfigured lineup, the Lady Eagles looked to maintain control of the match in set four, playing Ozark point for point. The Lady Ambassadors made good on several strategic plays, however, and were able to force a fifth set with a 19-25 victory.
Set five saw Emmaus make a large run at the beginning and lead Ozark 8-2 at the switch. A shift in momentum tightened the match, but Ozark made some crucial kills to take the match 13-15.
"While we were disappointed that we couldn't pull out the victory, everyone felt very positive after the match," said Coach Pitman. "Today wasn't about the scoreboard for us; it was a challenge to see if we could pull a 180 degree turn from our match on Tuesday. We did so with great success. This is the most inspired, consistent, and unified volleyball we have played to date. Coach Ruter and I are very pleased with the ladies' efforts today against a very strong opponent."
Outside hitter Alli Howard led the Lady Eagles with 13 kills, and Jenny Benson had her biggest night to date, contributing 10 kills and 3 blocks. Hannah Bell had 37 assists and 4 service aces. Molly Skoglund led the defense with 28 digs. Elizabeth Brame also contributed 3 blocks, filling in for the injured Chelsea Smith.
Emmaus will spend next week preparing for two more conference matches as they host St. Louis Christian and Central Christian (MO) next weekend. Matches are Friday, the 25th at 7:00 pm and Saturday the 26th at 2:00 pm in the Pollard Fieldhouse.