Senior hitter Michelle Abt earned 13 kills and 13 digs against the Fords.
The 16th-ranked Hopkins volleyball team brought home a double victory in a busy week that saw them face-off against the Stevenson University Mustangs on Thursday, Sept. 27 and the Fords of Haverford College on Saturday. They dropped just one set over the three-day period.
In the first set of the week, the Blue Jays took a quick 4-1 lead against the Mustangs. Unphased by the early momentum of Hopkins, Stevenson continued to battle, taking advantage of a couple of service errors and attack errors to cut the match to 8-7 in favor of Hopkins.
The resilient Blue Jays would bend but would not be broken, taking nine out of the next 10 points, with four straight coming from three straight aces and a kill from senior outside hitter Michelle Abt, forcing a pair of Stevenson timeouts as the Mustangs attempted to slow down the relentless Hopkins attack. With the scoreboard reading 17-8 in favor of the black and blue, the Blue Jays continue to keep their foot on the gas and extended their lead to 23-9 on the heels of freshman setter Sarah Khan’s six straight serves.
The Mustangs would refuse to go down without a fight and would take five of the next six points before freshman opposite hitter Micaelle Larrieux put the Mustangs down with a kill to take the first set 25-14.
The second set began with the two squads trading the first eight points back and forth before Stevenson would take a slight advantage and carve out a small lead at 10-7. However, seven straight points from the Blue Jays would allow the home Hopkins team to recapture their momentum and force a Stevenson timeout.
The timeout would allow the Mustangs the chance to regain some composure, and they eventually would cut the lead to just one point with Hopkins up just 20-19 after Stevenson scored a kill and received two points off of Blue Jay attack errors.
Feeling the pressure, Hopkins would call a timeout to take a breath and rethink their strategy. The extra time seemed to be effective, as Hopkins would take five points to Stevenson’s two as the Blue Jays took a two-set lead in a 25-21 win.
Just like the second set, the opening points of the third set went back and forth between the teams until the score sat at 4-4. A kill from Abt knotted the match up at four a piece and four straight attack errors from the Mustangs gave the Blue Jays a window of opportunity to take the set back into their own hands. Continuing to feel the match sliding into their hands, Hopkins continued their strong performance and took a 20-12 lead.
Stevenson would rattle off three straight points to cut the lead almost in half, but four straight points by the Jays put them within one point of the match, and after one last Stevenson point, a Mustang service error gave the third set, and the match, to Hopkins.
Larrieux and sophomore outside hitter Simone Bliss would lead the Blue Jays in kills with 12 and 10 each, with Bliss also contributing five blocks, which was good enough for second on the team behind freshman middle blocker Lauren Anthony’s six.
Anthony commented on her first-year experience thus far.
“It has really been my team that has pushed me to be my best in each aspect of the game. Sarah [Khan]’s and [sophomore setter Nicole] Hada’s sets set me up for success with all the hard work they put in,” Anthony said.
In the final match of the week, Haverford would take a quick 5-0 lead to throw the Jays off of their rhythm as the first set got underway. The resilience of the Blue Jays was on full display as the match wore on, however, and several Hopkins scoring runs eventually allowed the Jays to tie the Fords at 12-12 and took their first lead a point later off of a kill by Bliss.
Haverford would recapture the lead at 20-19 before three straight points by the Jays gave Hopkins a 22-20 lead. However, the Fords would take the next, and last, five points of the set to give Hopkins their first set loss at home of the entire season.
The taste of defeat must have sparked a fire within the Jays, as the second half was all Hopkins, who started the set with five straight points and would take a 10-4 lead. The Fords would eventually cut the lead to three at 11-8, but 12 of the next 15 points would go to Hopkins, giving Hopkins a 23-11 lead before taking the second set by a score of 25-14.
The third set would see the Fords and the Jays again back and forth, with Hopkins taking a 7-3 lead before Haverford would tie the set up at 8-8. Both would once again trade points and see themselves tied at 12 again before the Blue Jays would use a six-point run to open up their biggest lead on the Fords. They would cut the lead to four at 21-17, but Hopkins would finish off the set with four straight points as they took a lead two sets to one.
The story remained the same in the fourth set, with Haverford this time opening up the set with a 7-2 lead before it was the Blue Jays turn to battle back and tie the match at 10 each. The Blue Jays would take a three-point lead over the Fords, taking six of the next nine points, before Haverford cut it to one just minutes later following a timeout. With Hopkins ahead 17-16, the Blue Jays would surrender just one more point before ending the set and the match with a 25-17 victory.
Bliss would once again light up the scoreboard with 18 kills as Abt contributed 13 of her own. Anthony would lead the team in blocks for the second time that week with five and also contributed eight kills. Freshman middle blocker/opposite hitter Eleni Panagopoulos would finish fourth on the team in kills with seven while also leading the charge in service aces with four.
Anthony commented on the team’s goals since the beginning of the year and moving forward.
“The biggest key for our team this year is that we maximize every single rep and treat it with the utmost importance, like it’s game point of the National Championship. That, combined with a mindset that we can grow in every aspect of the game, has really led us to success thus far in the season,” Anthony said.
The Jays’ 13-match win streak is just two shy of their all-time record. Hopkins will have a chance to extend its winning streak on Wednesday when it travels to Dickinson College to take on the Red Devils in another key Centennial Conference matchup.