Prepared for Post-Season

Prepared for Post-Season

DUBUQUE, IA – The Lady Eagles ended their regular season at home over the weekend with two wins and a loss as they played 14 hard sets of volleyball in less than 24 hours.

On Friday, Emmaus re-matched with the Lady Archers of Moody on Senior Night.  The Lady Eagles played strong from the start of the match, taking set one by a score of 25-18.  Moody responded in set two, as they hit .189 and held Emmaus to a .023 for the set.  Neither team could muster any runs, and the score bounced back and forth for the set, ending with a Moody victory (23-25).  "Moody simply outworked us in the set," commented Coach Pitman.  "We were a little too comfortable from the beginning and we challenged our back row to step up their game and keep the ball in system."

The Lady Eagles answered the call, and stormed to a 15-1 lead in set three, eventually winning 25-5.  Emmaus was able to maintain their momentum and tempo in set four and took the match with a 25-14 victory.  "Credit Moody with tenacious play tonight, they are a good team and worked hard to find ways to score against us," said Coach Pitman.  "For our part, I loved our response to the internal challenge to aggressively focus on defensive fundamentals, kudos to our back row for a great end to the match."

On Saturday the Lady Eagles hosted a triangular with NAIA and NCCAA DI Judson University (Elgin, IL), and NCAA DIII and NCCAA DII North Region opponent Maranatha Baptist University (Watertown, WI).  It was a long day of intense volleyball in the Pollard Fieldhouse as each team split their matches in the win/loss columns.

The first match against Judson was an extremely tight affair.  The Eagles from Judson brought a large attack and block, but Emmaus was able to remain defensively sound and battled hard to gain points on serving.  In the end all five sets were needed to determine the winner, as Judson took the first and fourth and Emmaus took the second and third.  The Lady Eagles caught fire in the fifth, hitting .421 with 9 kills in the set to win the match (15-7).  "This was a great win for us against a strong opponent, and one of the statistically closest matches of the season for sure," said Coach Pitman.  "We got creative in finding ways to score and we stayed very aggressive on things we could control, namely free ball/down ball passing and serving, which was a difference maker."

Emmaus then had an opportunity to re-match with the three time defending National Champions from Watertown, and were hopeful for the same result as in September when they defeated the Sabercats 3-1.  But Maranatha had the upper hand in another hard fought battle, defeating Emmaus 2-3.  The Lady Eagles played strong ball in the first two sets, matching Maranatha's front row, and both sets could have tipped either way.  Emmaus emerged victorious by scores of 25-22 in each.  With the lead it was a great opportunity for the Lady Eagles to sweep the match and the day, but the Sabercats had other ideas.  Maranatha brought an offensive onslaught in the third set, pounding 17 kills to Emmaus's 8.  The momentum of the match shifted, and the Sabercats never looked back as they took sets four and five by scores of 25-15 and 15-9.

"Maranatha was the better team today, they outperformed us in the second half of the match without a doubt," said Coach Pitman.  "We were impressed, but not surprised, at their mettle and ability to believe they could win no matter the circumstance.  If we aspire to be a program with a legacy like the one we faced today, we need to continue to learn how to close matches while we have the opportunity, and also how to better rebound and regain momentum when it is lost.  I needed to do a better job in this match of making adjustments when we struggled, and upon review there were some different decisions I could have made to help the team."

"However, I am incredibly proud of our ladies for fighting all the way to the end in this one," continued Coach Pitman.  "The problems we had on the court were physical, which in turn led to some mental errors as well.  Maranatha pushed us hard, and we struggled with execution.  We were banged up with some acute injuries and very tired by the end, but we kept working hard even though it wasn't always pretty.  Also, even though we had individual frustration with our play, collectively we maintained unity and did not direct negative emotions toward each other.  We talked after the match, and we knew why we lost, and we understood that we lost as one.  Our ladies were a huge inspiration and testimony to me of how to lose a tough match graciously today, and I am grateful to them for it."

The Lady Eagles are now ready to tackle the post season, and the tough ball they have been playing has them feeling prepared and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.  Emmaus travels to Joplin, MO this week for the Midwest Christian College Conference Tournament.  The Lady Eagles are the #1 seed, and will face the winner of #4 Faith Baptist and #5 Barclay on Friday at 5:00 pm.