“We finished tonight and that is something we have not been doing well,” she noted after her young Lee volleyball squad improved to 6-3 and handed the visiting Eagles (4-1) their first defeat. “This was certainly one of our more exciting matches. The crowd was in it, and they were great.”
The Atlanta-based NCAA Division III opponent won a nip-and-tuck first set 25-21 and pretty well set the tone for the entire evening. The Lady Flames fought right back and got the attention of the Eagles by claiming set two, 25-17.
Emory wasn’t about to yield to the Lee pressure and fan support and grabbed set three, 25-23. With their backs to the wall, the Lady Flames battled back like a trapped animal and shot down the Eagles in the fourth set, 25-14, forcing the fifth and deciding set.
The final game rocked back and forth until the Lady Flames finally gained the upper hand and put the thriller away, 15-13. The deciding point of the headline maker came on a kill by sophomore Marija Zelenovic, who went high to knock down the winner from midcourt.
Zelenovic finished with 19 slams and seven digs. But the 6-foot-3 Serbian had to share plenty of the spotlight with Irene Ojukwu, who came up with big plays time and again. She tallied 17 kills and a .405 attack percentage. The junior from Brazil added nine digs and a couple of blocks.
However, Paula Martins also had the crowd on its feet with 11 kills. She continued her outstanding hitting mark by registering a .476 percentage. Martins completed the night with two digs and a couple of blocks. Camil Martinez, another newcomer from the Dominican Republic, probably had her most consistent effort of the season. The setter had 50 assists, 10 digs, four kills, four big aces and two blocks.
Nicole Sumida was the block leader with four and added six kills. Patty Orozco countered with five slams, two aces, and three blocks. Libero Libby Peigen helped make it a complete win with 19 digs. The sophomore also tied Martinez in the ace department with four.
Emory fought hard and had three players with double-figure kills. Breanah Bourque was best with 14. Alex Duhl followed with 11 and Kate Bowman totaled 10. She also had 11 digs. Sydney Miles was the assist leader with 43.
The rugged schedule continues on Friday and Saturday for coach Hudson’s crew. They will host the Lee Showcase, facing No. 3 Columbia College (Mo.) on Friday at 1:45 and challenge No. 1 Texas-Brownsville at 6:15. If that isn’t enough, No. 6 Embry-Riddle will be the opponent on Saturday at 2:30.