It was a tough weekend for all of the teams who took the court this weekend against the Hopkins women’s volleyball team, as the Blue Jays continued their dominant start to their 2019 campaign with three convincing victories this weekend as they traveled to Fredericksburg, Va. for the University of Mary Washington Classic.
Match number one saw Hopkins face off against the previously undefeated Virginia Wesleyan University Marlins, who challenged the Blue Jays early in set one as the two squads traded kills back and forth. The Marlins were able to carve out a three-point lead to take a 6-3 advantage, but Hopkins responded with a 9-3 run as they took a three-point lead of their own at 12-9. VWU closed the lead to one just two serves later, but they struggled to keep the momentum going as a pair of botched hits and a rallying Hopkins offense responded with five straight points to turn the tide of the set at 17-12. Hopkins would end on an 8-2 run to close out the first set 25-14.
Riding the energy of the first set, Hopkins took it to the Marlins early in set two by going up 8-2. Rather than hit the panic button and fold early, Virginia Wesleyan would continue to battle as the set wore on, but were unable to chip away at the Hopkins lead. The two teams would trade points back and forth, with the Blue Jays taking an eight-point lead at 18-10 before VWU took six of the next seven points to cut it to 19-16. The Marlins would push late, but Hopkins would take the second set 25-22.
It was a story of ties in set three with the score being knotted up on nine different occasions. Hopkins managed a two-point lead on a couple of occasions, and even held an 18-14 advantage, but Virginia Wesleyan continued to try and fight their way back into the match. The Marlins would continue to narrow the deficit to one as the Blue Jays inched closer to the 25 points that they needed, but they were unable to overtake Hopkins and the Jays went on to win 25-22.
Senior middle blocker Hannah Korslund was pleased with the team’s attitude over the weekend, and felt that the sense of community on the smaller team contributed to the way they have been performing.
“We were definitely excited to come out with a strong level of intensity and energy to take care of this weekend’s opponents,” said Korslund. “We are definitely looking forward to using our team chemistry and how close knit we are as a small team to our advantage too.”
Match two of the weekend came against the Washington and Lee University Generals, who committed six attack errors on the first nine points which gave Hopkins the opportunity to jump out to an 8-1 lead to start the set. The Generals were able to regroup, however, and went on a 16-8 run to swing the momentum in their favor and take a 17-16 lead. A Hopkins timeout allowed the Blue Jays to reset after the Washington and Lee push, which proved helpful as they came out of the break, taking nine of the next 13 points along with the first set 25-20.
It was another hot start for Hopkins in the second set, once again highlighted by attack errors against the Generals. The relentless Blue Jays took full advantage of the miscues by W&L and piled on some powerful offense to notch a 16-4 lead. The Generals would show some signs of life and narrow the deficit to nine when they took five of the next seven points, but it wouldn’t be enough to stop the Blue Jay train from continuing to roll. Hopkins would finish strong, clinching a 2-0 lead in the match by taking the last four points in a 25-12 set victory.
Looking to send W&L home early, the third was another charm of a set for the Jays. They jumped out to an 11-4 lead and forced the Generals to take a timeout and stop the bleeding. Hopkins did not allow the Generals to rest for long and continued to dominate the floor. Led by junior outside hitter Simone Bliss’ four kills, the Jays allowed the Generals to score just seven more points to their 14, as the third and final set finished at 25-11 in favor of the Blue Jays.
The third match of the weekend came against the University of Mary Washington Eagles as Hopkins head coach Matt Troy faced off against his former team. The battle of the birds was a back and forth battle in the early goings of set one, with Hopkins taking a couple of leads early on before UMW knotted the set back up at seven all. It wouldn’t be until near the midpoint of the set when the Jays went on a 9-2 run to secure the momentum. They would take that momentum to the end of the set as they won set one by a score of 25-15.
Hopkins opened the second set taking an early 6-2 lead, but Mary Washington continued the trend of battling back, and eventually claimed their first lead of the match at 11-10. It would be short-lived, with the Jays knotting up the set at 12-12, and then taking an 18-16 lead over the Eagles. UMW would rally back to take nine of the last 11 points of the set as the Blue Jays dropped their first set of the weekend 25-20.
The loss must have set a fire underneath the Blue Jays, because they came out hot with four straight points in set number three. The Eagles would reply with four straight of their own, and the battling birds would exchange back to back points to tie it up at 6-6, but Hopkins would break away with two six-point runs broken up by a single UMW point to pull ahead 18-7. Hopkins would close out set three in dominant fashion 25-12.
The weekend closed after set four for the Blue Jays, as they traded points back and forth with the Eagles to put the score at 6-6 once again. A four-point run forced a Mary Washington timeout, and Hopkins would go on three separate three point stretches to extend the lead to nine at 21-12 before finally putting away the Eagles for good after back-to-back Eagle attack errors to capture a 25-14 set four.
The three wins over the weekend put Hopkins at 7-0 on the year and victors of the UMW Classic. Amidst several impressive performances by the Blue Jays, junior setter Natalie Aston was named the most valuable player after finishing the weekend with 113 assists, 22 digs and five service aces.
Despite the successful weekend, Korslund knows that the work is never done, and the team will continue to strive to be better as they continue their 2019 campaign.
“We are looking forward to improving our offensive tempo and aggressive attacking as the season progresses and against tough upcoming competition,” Korslund said.
The Blue Jays will take part in another three-match weekend this weekend when they travel to Selinsgrove, Pa. to take on Clarkson University on Friday and the Rochester Institute of Technology and Ithaca College on Saturday.