GARY, IN – Emmaus returned home from their matches in Indiana with a win and two losses, but the Lady Eagles gained experience that meant more than just the numbers on the scoreboard.
Friday night Emmaus found themselves in Whiting, IN, matched up against NAIA and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletics Conference member Calumet College of St. Joseph. The Crimson Wave, featuring 6'2 junior transfer Arrion Pamon, came to the match ready to defend their home floor. It was Emmaus that struck the first blow however, as they pulled out a gutsy 25-23 win in the first set. But the Crimson Wave surged back with strong serving and net play to take the second set 16-25. Coach Pitman juggled rotations for set three hoping to get a better match up offensively, but it was in vain as Calumet was more dominant and held the Lady Eagles to negative percentages on attack and took the set with another 16-25 score. "Bad judgment call on my part for the set, and it cost us," commented Coach Pitman. "After we got dominated, we had a decision to make. We talked about the choice to give up or win the match in five. We picked the latter."
With their original match-ups in place and renewed energy, the Lady Eagles stormed out with tough serving in the fourth set, racing to a 10-1 lead. Calumet would respond, but it was too little too late as the Lady Eagles won 25-15. Emmaus would then experience their first fifth set of the season, and it went down to the wire. The Lady Eagles trailed at the switch, but fought hard to claw ahead and gained a 14-12 lead. The Crimson Wave were not about to let up however, and their aggressive play forced Emmaus into a 16-18 loss.
"This was a great close match, and what a turnaround response we had in sets four and five!" said Coach Pitman. "I loved to see aggressive play from our players against the biggest blocking team we have seen all season, and I thought we made a strong effort. We have many takeaways from tonight, including capitalizing on match point opportunities, but I am proud of each player for sticking to the game plan and staying aggressive, even if that resulted in errors. Kudos to Calumet on a well-played match."
Emmaus had another opportunity for tough ball on Saturday, as they made the short drive to Gary, IN to take on Indiana University Northwest, another NAIA opponent. The Redhawks came into the match as the number one team in the A.I.I. Conference, and recently clinched the number one seed for the A.I.I Tournament. Indiana was able to bring a constant strong attack that proved too much for the shorter Emmaus squad, but the Lady Eagles were not willing to go down without a fight, putting up scores of 19-25, 13-25, and 23-25.
In the second match of the triangular, Emmaus took on the Lady Archers of Moody Bible Institute, an NCCAA North Region opponent. Moody brought a depleted squad to the match due to various reasons, and Emmaus was able to win in straight sets.
"Another good opportunity for growth today," said Coach Pitman. "I thought we had great moments in the Indiana game, we just weren't able to match their firepower. I was proud of us for closing the gap in in sets one and three and making the score close. Moody played a hard match as well, and we look forward to seeing them next weekend at full strength. I thought we had great testimonies and unity on the court this weekend and we hope to continue that as we work toward the post-season."
The Lady Eagles wrap up regular season play at home on the weekend, as they welcome Moody to Dubuque on Friday for Senior Night. Saturday will feature a tri-match with Judson University and Maranatha Baptist University.