New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Violets volleyball win second UAA title in three years

The NYU women’s volleyball team beat first seed Emory University in a tense UAA championship game.
The NYU women’s volleyball team playing against Susquehanna University on Sept. 12. (Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

The NYU women’s volleyball team clinched their second UAA title in the last three years on Nov. 11 in Atlanta, Georgia. They faced off against previous winners and host Emory University in front of 250 home fans in the championship game, leaving with a 3-2 win.

The No. 6 ranked Violets went into the tournament with a 26-4 record overall and 5-2 in conference. The No. 4 ranked Emory University had only lost one game the whole year, boasting a 22-1 record overall and 7-0 in conference.

“It feels great to be able to win the conference for the first and second time in school history while I’ve been here,” said senior and captain Haley Holz. The Violets won their first UAA title in 2021, Holz’s sophomore year. 

NYU swept aside Brandeis University 3-0 in the first round on Nov. 10 before beating Case Western Reserve University 3-0 in the semifinal on the same day. 

Although the first set against Brandeis was a comfortable 25-11 win for NYU, the other two sets were much closer games.

Although Case Western had swept the Violets earlier in the conference season, NYU easily won the first two sets and outlasted them in a tense final set.

“It took a collective team effort, and we executed our game plan and we studied what they did the first time around,” said head coach Andrew Brown. “They felt confident and we made really aggressive plays when our team was being pushed, and I think the team that stays the most aggressive in those really high-pressure moments will always be rewarded.”

Going into the championship match, NYU had only beaten Emory four times out of 27 matches since 2001. Earlier in the second round of UAA matches, the Eagles had already beaten the Violets 3-1.

“The message was to be confident and excited,” said Brown. “Last year, they beat us in Brooklyn in the conference tournament semifinals. We were definitely excited to play them at their home gym on their main court.” 

Emory got off to a quick start, scoring 19 points to NYU’s eight early in the first set. 

“When we were down 19 to eight, it was literally like an impossible deficit. I don’t think I can remember any volleyball I’ve ever seen, whether I played, coached or watched on TV where there’s been a larger deficit than that to come back from,” said Brown. “But I think each point after the score hit 18, we started to get better.”

The Violets rallied, scoring eight consecutive points to close out the set 25-22. They won the second set 25-16.

However, once Emory took the lead in the third set, they refused to give it up, winning 25-15. The Eagles tied up the game with a win in the fourth set, leading the Violets to their first five-set match all season.

“I knew that walking out of there with a three-set sweep was never going to be the tale of this story,” Brown said. “And there was a part of the excitement to play our fifth set, and that overshadowed any sense of ‘We’re losing now, it’s tied,’ and we talked about things we wanted to continue to focus on.”

The match was tense, with both teams trading points until Emory took the lead 13-11. Knowing they only had a two-point error margin, the Violets put in their all — and closed out the final set 15-13.

A team of six girls in white jerseys with the word “Violets” on them are celebrating.
The NYU women’s volleyball team playing against The University of Scranton on Nov 5. (Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

First-year Grace Nelson won UAA Rookie of the Year and was in the 2023 All-Association Volleyball Second Team with Holz. Junior Lindsey Hirano was selected for the First Team for her stellar defensive performances at libero over the season, ranking first for digs in the conference with 636. 

Brown emphasized the tight-knit friendships the players built in the locker room, crediting them for the wins.

“We are like a really close family,” Brown said. “Our culture that we’ve taken over was already really good. It was about continuing to develop those bonds and those goals and the structure that can allow them to be successful and balance both their academics and volleyball.”

The Violets traveled to Ithaca this past weekend for the regional round of the NCAA Division III Championship tournament. They swept Eastern Nazarene College and defeated Eastern University, then played a final game against hosts Ithaca College. After defeating Ithaca in straight sets, the Violets punched their ticket into the tournament’s Elite Eight.

Their opponent in the quarterfinal is yet to be determined, but the Violets will be traveling to Claremont, California, on Nov. 29 for a chance to win their first national championship.

Contact Jonathan Mak at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jonathan Mak, Deputy Sports Editor
Jonathan Mak is a sophomore studying Journalism and Psychology at CAS. His mood depends on the Manchester United results, and he can be found obsessing over his fantasy Premier League team, trying to find authentic Southeast Asian food or watching "How I Met Your Mother." Send fantasy PL tips or invites to pick-up football games to @_jonmak on Instagram and @_jonathanmak_ on X, formerly Twitter.

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