Hopkins Falls to the Garnet in Sweet 16, 3-2
• Score: Johns Hopkins - 2, Swarthmore - 3 (31-29, 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10)
• Records: Johns Hopkins (26-4), Swarthmore (24-7)
• Location: Owings Mills, MD • Owings Mills Gymnasium
• The Short Story: The Johns Hopkins volleyball team fell to Swarthmore in an exciting five set match on Sunday afternoon in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
How it Happened
• 1st Set – An epic first set saw the teams battle deep into extra points before Swarthmore used a 3-0 run to take it 31-29. In a set that saw 16 ties, the Blue Jays had a 23-19 lead after a kill by freshman Simone Bliss, but the Garnet answered with a 6-1 run to take a 25-24 lead on one of four services aces in the set for SC. Still, the Blue Jays battled back and had leads at 27-26, 28-27 and 29-28, the last after an Elizabeth Wuerstle kill, but back to back kills for the Garnet and a ball-handling error by the Blue Jays gave the Garnet the pivotal first set.
• 2nd Set – Not quite as dramatic as the first set, but neither team led by more than three points until a Natalie Aston kill gave JHU the 25-21 win. The set was tied nine times, including the last one at 19-19 before a 3-0 Blue Jay run gave Hopkins a 22-19 lead. The Garnet got within 22-20 and 23-21, but a block by Wuerstle and Aston’s kill closed it out for the Blue Jays.
• 3rd Set – Another evenly-played set that saw the Blue Jays spurt out to a 19-15 lead after neither team led by more than three in the first 17 points of the set. Twice the Garnet pulled within two down the stretch at 10-19 and 21-19, but three straight kills by Bliss gave JHU a 24-19 lead and an attack error by the Garnet gave JHU the set. Hopkins hit .302 in the set and Bliss (6) and Louisa Kishton (5) combined for 11 of the Blue Jays’ 17 kills in the frame.
• 4th Set – Following the first three sets, the fourth set was just as exciting as it featured 12 ties. Dow 10-8, Hopkins rallied, scoring four-straight points to pull ahead 11-10, but SC scored the next two points and took a 12-11 lead. The two Centennial rivals, who have played each other twice this season, continued to battle back-and-forth before Swarthmore scored four of the last five as back-to-back kills from Mehra den Braven gave the Garnet the set, 25-22 and sent the match to a deciding fifth set.
• 5th Set – JHU scored five of the first six points to take a 5-1 lead, but SC went on an 8-0 run out of a timeout to take a 9-5 lead. Kills from Bliss and Kishton got JHU to within two at 9-7, but Swarthmore pulled away, scoring four of the match’s final five points to win the set 15-10 and take the match 3-2.
What it Means
• The loss concludes one of the most successful seasons in program history as the team set new records for consecutive wins and consecutive conference wins. The team also made the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
Inside the Box Score
• Aston and Bliss were named to the All-Tournament Team. Aston finished the match with a match-high 49 assists, while Bliss had 15 kills.
• Kishton recorded a double-double with 17 kills and 27 digs, which were both team highs.
• Wuerstle added 13 kills while Esther Hong finished with 22 digs.
• den Braven finished with 15 kills and 21 digs while Malia Scott added 47 assists.
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