Volleyball’s historic win streak comes to an end

By DAVID GLASS | October 26, 2017

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HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Freshman Natalie Aston led the Blue Jays against Ursinus with 20 assists.

The Hopkins women’s volleyball team’s 18-game winning streak ended on the road against the 25th ranked Stevenson University Mustangs, losing 3-1 on Thursday. After the loss, the Jays bounced back and swept the Ursinus College Bears on Saturday.

Freshman outside hitter Simone Bliss talked about the team’s development.

“Our team has come a long way since the beginning of the season,” Bliss said. “We’ve all come together and bought into the idea that we’re on a mission together.”

Stevenson, whose only loss of the season came against Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 16, took early control of the match, getting off to a 16-6 lead in the first set. The Mustangs maintained a large lead for the rest of the set, winning it 25-17 after a kill from middle Victoria Prokic on set point.

Both teams went back and forth in the second set. Stevenson was up 24-22 until back-to-back kills from senior outside hitter Elizabeth Wuerstle tied it up. The scored was tied again at 26, but the Mustangs took the next two points, winning the set on a kill from middle hitter Chelsea Ireland.

Bliss spoke about the Jays’ uncharacteristic performance in their first loss since September 12 against Wittenberg University.

“We put ourselves at a disadvantage by starting off slow and not being crisp on defense or aggressive enough on offense, especially in the beginning,” Bliss said. “Throughout the game, we made improvements and battled, but we definitely could have played a lot better.”

The Blue Jays were at their best in the third set, propelling themselves to a 15-8 lead. An ace from junior middle blocker Sasha Gorelik put Hopkins up 21-17.

Stevenson, however, went on a 7-3 run to take the 25-24 lead. At match point, Hopkins managed to win the next three points, which included a kill from freshman opposite Morgan Wu; an ace from freshman setter and middle Natalie Aston; and another kill from Wu.

The fourth set started off close, with the score tied at 11. Stevenson then went on a 6-2 run and soon had a 22-17 lead.

Hopkins fought back, winning four of the next six points. However, Stevenson went up 24-21 and won the point, the set and the match. The 3-1 win extended the Mustangs’ own win streak to 13 games and evened the all-time Hopkins-Stevenson series at eight games apiece.

Bliss, who led the team with 17 kills, reflected on what the team was able to take away from the loss.

“Our game against Stevenson gave us an opportunity to acknowledge as a team that in order to be excellent we have to be totally engaged and do our thing,” she said. “We have to give everything we have for every ball and stay frosty throughout every play.”

On Saturday afternoon, Hopkins came back from the loss by winning three straight sets against Ursinus. The Bears have yet to win a set in Conference play.

The first set started off tight, with the score tied up at 12. After that, the Blue Jays took full control of the set and the match, winning the first set after a strong 13-2 run.

The Jays took an early lead in the second set, going up 11-4. They maintained a sizeable lead for the rest of the set, winning it 25-12 following a kill from Wuerstle. The senior outside hitter, following this match, is now four aces away from tying the all-time school record.

The third and final set followed in similar fashion. The Blue Jays got off to an early 12-4 lead and eventually won the set 25-7, with the final point coming off of a kill from sophomore outside hitter Louisa Kishton.

Bliss, along with Kishton, led the team in kills again, with 11 apiece. Bliss and Kishton also now lead the team in kills on the season, with 234 and 242, respectively.

Bliss spoke highly of Head Coach Tim Cole’s system and the practice environment.

“Everyone is of equal value and has a voice on the team. Everyone contributes and influences everyone else,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of her teammates and coaching staff.

“Everyday I am surrounded by people who are bringing their own individual contributions to the table, which I in turn can use to learn and grow,” she said.

Hopkins is now 20-3 on the season, winning 19 out of its last 20 games. The Jays are also undefeated in the Conference this season (8-0) and currently have a Conference win streak of 18 games, dating back to last season.

The Blue Jays will wrap up Conference play and their regular season against the Franklin & Marshall College Diplomats on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Goldfarb Gym.

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