A successful year ended Wednesday night, as Eastern Mennonite was tagged with a loss to top-seeded Randolph-Macon College in the quarterfinals of the ODAC Women's Volleyball Tournament.
Even with the loss, the Royals completed a great 2017 campaign by earning a trip to the postseason tourney for the first time since 2007. With a final record of 11-17, the volleyball women both forged the team's best winning percentage since 2001 as well as tied for the most wins since that same year. At 3-8 in the ODAC during the season, EMU tied for the most league wins since 2003.
Randolph-Macon (21-6), which has not lost an ODAC regular season or postseason match since the 2014 tournament, moves on to host the semifinals and championship this weekend.
The Yellow Jackets used tough serving to jump on top early in the first set, rolling to a 25-8 final. EMU stayed around through the early portions of the second until a huge run for R-MC boiled over to another 25-8 score.
The home team again grabbed an early lead in the third. Senior Skyler Johnson (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) landed a kill from a back row attack to cap a 6-2 run for the Royals, but it was too late as the Yellow Jackets closed the night, 25-14.
Randolph-Macon took EMU out of sync with tough service and strong net play, ending with nine aces and nine blocks.
Junior middle hitter Maria Yoder (Manheim, Pa./Hempfield) was a bright spot with four kills and three blocks, including a pair of solo stuffs. Erin Brubaker (Goessel, Kan./Goessel) added three kills on just six swings. Beck Hoskins (Danville, Va./Westover Christian Academy) also had three blocks.
Libero Skyler Johnson made her return to the starting lineup for the first time since an injury Oct. 18 against Shenandoah. She led all players with 10 digs.
Alexia Wolfe led Randolph-Macon with seven kills. Emily Fitzwater had five blocks.
The recent growth of the EMU women's volleyball program got a cathartic release by advancing to the ODAC Tournament for the first time in a decade. Playing their final match on a tournament court were the five seniors: Skyler Johnson, Jasmine Johnson (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee), Alexa Weeks (Montross, Va./Washington & Lee), Janna Williams (Kenbridge, Va./Kenston Forest) and Sam Jacob (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite).
Skyler Johnson racked up 1,254 digs in her four seasons, including the final two as the team's libero. She comes in No. 6 in EMU Career Digs, just one behind Becky Miller, another Hall of Honor member.