JOPLIN, MO – It was finally time to celebrate, as the Lady Eagles earned their second MCCC Conference Tournament championship in as many years on Saturday afternoon with a victory over Manhattan Christian College.
Having won the MCCC regular season title, Emmaus came into the tournament as the number one seed, and after a first round bye they took on the Lady Bears of Barclay College (Haviland, KS). The 5th seeded Barclay had pulled a convincing upset earlier in the day, and came into the match prepared to do all they could to continue their run in the tournament. The Lady Eagles had to battle hard to adjust to Barclay's tenacious and scrappy play, but were able to win in straight sets (25-15, 25-23, 25-18). "Barclay came to the tournament ready to play, and hats off to them for giving us a hard fought match," said Coach Pitman. "I appreciated how our ladies fought hard, and even though we had stretches where we didn't play our best, we stuck to our plan and played unified and aggressive ball." The Lady Bears would continue their upset run in the tournament, as they won the third place match on Saturday against 3rd seeded Ozark Christian College.
The stage was now set for the showdown of the number one and two seeds, as Emmaus and Manhattan faced off in the tournament championship. The Lady Eagles started slowly as they worked out their nerves in the first set, but then caught fire as they were able to make extended runs against the Thunder to claim a 25-12 victory. Set two was a much tighter affair, but Emmaus still played some good tempo volleyball and made points at key times to win 25-22. The Lady Eagles completed the sweep in the third set with a score of 25-18.
"I am incredibly proud of the way we played as a team today," said Coach Pitman. "I loved every aspect of our play and our response to adverse situations. We trailed at the beginning of each set, sometimes by a fair margin, but our confidence in each other remained high and we played some inspired volleyball. I am just as pleased with how we played as with the result. We have a lot of respect for Manhattan - they are a national caliber program and they gave us a great match today."
"We have worked all season for the post season, and while we have had success along the way it has always been our goal to win at the end," continued Coach Pitman. "It is no small feat to win back-to-back championships in the MCCC, and I love how our ladies have defied expectations and have played some gritty team volleyball this season. I am very, very proud of them."
The Lady Eagles will now turn their sights to the NCCAA North Region Tournament next weekend in Ankeny, IA. Emmaus will face a hard road to the championship in the single elimination tournament. Seeding and match times will be announced on Wednesday.