The Hopkins women’s volleyball team got their season off to a hot start this past weekend as they traveled across town to Goucher College to take on the Gophers in the opening match of the season.
Hopkins enters the season with high expectations, coming in as the No. 18 team in Division III and being predicted to win the Centennial Conference after capturing the Conference title the past two seasons. 2017 was a particularly historic year for the Blue Jays.
Hopkins broke into the top 25 for the first time in program history and has stayed there since, with the help of an 18-match win streak to close out the regular season. The Blue Jays were dominant in Conference play, going 10-0 during the regular season last year. Hopkins has maintained this dominance over the past several seasons as they have not lost a regular season game in Conference play since October 28, 2015.
Returning for Hopkins from that historic squad are nine Blue Jays, including three All-Centennial Conference selections, three AVCA All-Region selections, two All-Americans and the North Region Rookie of the Year, all of whom are looking to bridge off of the success of last season’s run. Senior outside hitter Michelle Abt commented on how the high expectations have motivated the squad.
“We’re chasing a national championship, and we believe we have the parts needed to get there. We are taking it one day at a time, focusing on bringing our best... investing in our team culture and doing everything we can to stay healthy,” Abt said.
The Blue Jays wasted no time getting going, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first set led by junior outside hitter and 2017 Second Team All-American Louisa Kishton, whose back-to-back kills gave Hopkins momentum early on. Hopkins would continue to put the pressure on Goucher, later scoring six straight points to push their lead to 17-4, before taking eight of the last 10 points to give the Blue Jays the first set by a score of 25-7.
Goucher would fire back in the second set, keeping the Jays on their toes as the Gophers trailed by only a point at 5-4. Not fazed by this early push, they repeated their six-point streak from the first set to give themselves some breathing room, pushing the score to 11-4. Hopkins would continue to capitalize off scoring runs, as they would take the final nine points and with it the second set by a score of 25-11.
The Gophers and the Blue Jays would go back and forth in the early goings of the third set, but, similarly to the first two, Hopkins would take advantage of scoring runs, this time with a 7-1 push to give the Jays a 15-10 lead. From there, the two teams would continue to go back and forth, but Hopkins would prove to be too much, as they captured the third set 25-17 to take the match 3-0. This was the eighth straight match in which the Blue Jays defeated the Gophers in straight sets. Junior middle blocker Hannah Korslund commented on the win.
“The game against Goucher was a great opportunity for us to trust our training and come together and compete as a team,” Korslund said.
42 of the Blue Jays’ 75 points came off of kills, with Kishton leading the team with 16. Sophomore outside hitter Simone Bliss accounted for eight and freshman opposite hitter Micaelle Larrieux would contribute six of her own. Freshman libero Sarah Khan and Abt led with five digs each, while sophomore setter Nicole Hada led in assists with 19. Abt reflected on the team’s success.
“Our match against Goucher last Friday was a great start to our season. We really came out doing our thing, and settled into the opportunity to play volleyball and get better as a team, without added significance that it was ‘a game’,” Abt said.
Hopkins will next be in action Friday, September 7 when they travel to York, Pa. to take on the Elizabethtown College Blue Jays at the Spartan Invitational.