Big Comeback Stopped Just Short In Five-Set Loss At Roanoke

Erin Brubaker watched 13 kills hit the floor against Roanoke. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Erin Brubaker watched 13 kills hit the floor against Roanoke. (photo by Scott Eyre)

A dramatic comeback came up just short on Saturday when EMU's volleyball women dropped a 3-2 decision at Roanoke College. After dropping the first two sets, the Royals nearly upset a team picked No. 6 in the ODAC Preseason Poll, even leading early in the fifth set. EMU slips to 1-2 in the conference.

Eastern Mennonite (3-9 overall) had one of their best attacking efforts of the season and it showed in the scoring.

They struggled in the first set and could not climb out of an early hole in a 25-17 loss. In the second, they used hitting to erase a seven-point deficit with a 19-8 run, taking a 22-18 lead. Roanoke (6-6/2-1 ODAC) came charging back, and fought off a set point serve from the Royals before scoring three straight to win, 26-24.

EMU's momentum carried into the third where they jumped to a 10-5 lead. The Maroons quickly took the lead with an 8-1 run, but the women closed the set on a 9-1 tear to stay alive, 25-19.

The fourth set was a wild one. The opponents traded short spurts and leads, with Eastern Mennonite using a 5-1 jab to stretch a 23-18 advantage. However, Roanoke scored five unanswered to tie the score at 23-23, and again had the score tied at 24-24. Erin Brubaker (Goessel, Kan./Goessel) landed a kill to keep the momentum on EMU's side before a Maroon attack error forced a fifth set with a 26-24 final.

The Royals looked to have momentum in the deciding fifth set, opening with three straight kills from Kara Smith (Hayes, Va./Gloucester). But Roanoke had the score tied at 4-4, and they eventually worked ahead 9-6. Brubaker put down back-to-back kills to keep EMU within 9-8, but the home team was just too strong, closing on a 6-2 run to win the day, 15-10.

Eastern Mennonite hit .141 as a team. Brubaker and Smith led the way with 13 and 11 kills, respectively. Each set a career high. Janna Williams (Kenbridge, Va./Kenston Forest) landed nine kills, while Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield) had eight and Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) added seven.

Freshman Carly Gingerich (Goshen, Ind./Goshen) put up 21 set assists, 17 digs and two service aces for her best game as a Royal. Fellow setter Jasmine Johnson (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) lofted 20 assists to crack the 2,000-assist plateau for her career. The senior is No. 2 in EMU career assists with 2,019.

Libero Skyler Johnson (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) racked up a season-best 30 digs in the five-setter. Her career high is 34 in a match last fall against St. Mary's (Md.). Sam Jacob (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) added 15 digs.

Kylah Blackmore led Roanoke with 14 kills and 26 digs. Sydney Daniel and Logan Graves each had 12 kills.