Despite a loss at Bridgewater to end the regular season, EMU's volleyball women learned later Friday night that they had earned their first ODAC Tournament berth since 2007.
The Royals (11-16/3-8 ODAC) emerged from a four-way tie for eighth in the ODAC standings, going through two layers of tiebreakers. They will head to top seed Randolph-Macon on Wednesday night.
Eastern Mennonite ended the season in a tie with Randolph, Shenandoah and Emory & Henry. Both EMU and Randolph went 2-1 in the meetings between the four tied teams, eliminating SU and EHC, who had gone 1-2. The women then drew the final playoff spot because of their head-to-head win over the WildCats, a 3-0 sweep last Saturday in Harrisonburg.
Randolph-Macon (20-5/11-0 ODAC) defeated EMU in straight sets when the two met on Sept. 21 in Yoder Arena. The Yellow Jackets have won the last two ODAC titles and have not lost a conference match since 2014.
Despite not having been to the ODAC Tournament in a decade, Eastern Mennonite still has the second-most ODAC Championships in league history with eight. After matching the 2007 team with 11 wins in Thursday night's sweep of Mary Baldwin, the return to the league tourney marks another step back to prominence for the Royals program.
EMU showed some flashes of good play against rival Bridgewater (19-6/8-3 ODAC) on Friday, but were thwarted in their upset attempt by inconsistent attacking.
After some tough play early in set one, a string of attack errors put the women in a 15-9 hole, triggering a timeout. The Royals steadied their play but could not cut into the deficit and dropped the opener, 25-18.
EMU again scored first in the second before the Eagles quickly took over. The home team bumped to a 14-5 margin. The women would get no closer than five in a 25-19 loss.
Bridgewater carried all the momentum into the third set, streaking to a 9-1 lead. That carried to a 25-14 final.
Amy Goodman (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian) was the only consistent offensive weapon, finishing with eight kills. Erin Brubaker (Goessel, Kan./Goessel) and Janna Williams (Kenbridge, Va./Kenston Forest) each had four kills. Jasmine Johnson (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) picked up 11 assists.
The Royals had only one service ace, a season low for the ODAC's best-serving team.
Deja Booker led Bridgewater with 12 kills and three blocks. Libero Macon Frey had 18 digs and 10 set assists.