It was a fitting home finale for the Eastern Mennonite University volleyball women, a 3-1 win over Mount Aloysius.
The gritty win assures the Royals of their first .500 season in 18 years. With an overall record of 13-12, the women can tie that 2001 team at 14 victories by knocking off Marymount in Saturday's season finale. EMU meets the talented Saints (20-10) in Bridgewater's Nininger Hall at noon.
Eastern Mennonite's women dug out of an early hole against Mount Aloysius (17-8), unleashing an 11-1 run to get ahead 19-12. They ended the set on a 6-1 streak to win, 25-17.
The Royals led by five early in the second, only to watch MAC tie the score at 12-12. The Mounties then used a 6-1 run to grab a 20-17 lead, eventually pushing it to 23-19. But inspired by a fantastic save from libero Tarynn Clark (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian) as she crashed into the chairs of EMU's bench, the Royals hammered four straight kills to lock the score back up at 23-23.
The Mounties kept the edge and twice served for set point until back-to-back kills from Hannah Johnson (Staunton, Va./Wilson Memorial) pushed EMU in front, 26-25. The teams traded kills until finally an error from MAC gave the Royals the win, 31-29.
Mount Aloysius scored the first three points of the third set and kept a small margin most of the way to stay alive, 25-20.
The visitors maintained an early edge in the fourth, leading 8-4, until EMU landed a 7-1 streak to change the momentum. The Mounties had one more short-lived lead before Johnson smashed three kills during a decisive 6-0 run. Sarah East (Washington, Va./Rappahannock County) finished off the night with her third ace, closing a 25-19 set.
The Royals' offense was in high gear, hitting .292 as a team, their second highest total of the season. The women hit .356 or better in each of three sets they won. They also landed nine aces against just two service errors.
Johnson led all players with her season high 21 kills and 19 digs. It was also her 15th double double of the year. Andrea Troyer (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) landed a career high 11 kills (.500 hitting percentage) to go with four blocks. East had career highs of nine kills (.529 hitting percentage) and four blocks, adding three aces. Amy Goodman (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian) had eight kills while seniors Kara Durren (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) and Meredith Stinnette (Altavista, Va./Altavista) each had seven kills in their finale home contest.
Setter Tori Wigley (Elkton, Va./Easter Rockingham) racked up 36 assists and 10 digs in the two-setter offense with her counterpart Abbi Hawkins (Middlebury, Ind./Bethany Christian) going for three aces. Delanie Miller (Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) picked up 13 digs, most of them in relief of Clark over the final two sets.
Machala Gibbons led Mount Aloysius with 18 kills, 12 digs and four aces.