The Hopkins volleyball team walked into Huntingdon, Pa. this past weekend with their eyes on maintaining their impressive undefeated record. The Jays had three matches on Friday and Saturday, facing the No. 8 ranked Juniata College Eagles on Friday, and the unranked Saint Vincent College Bearcats and University of Rochester Yellow Jackets on Saturday.
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Anthony gave insight into the team’s focus heading into the weekend.
“Our mentality was just to go out there and play with everything we had,” she said. “We had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so we took it as an opportunity to play our best game against great opponents.”
The first set established the tone for the competitive match. The Jays flew out to a couple of three point leads, going up 6-3 early in the set. Juniata swiftly crawled their way back into the lead with a 6-2 run, making the score 9-8. However, a kill from junior outside hitter Simone Bliss and an ace from junior setter Natalie Aston gave Hopkins the 10-9 lead.
After a short-lived Juniata rebuttal, Hopkins rattled off an impressive run of points to grab the lead, including three off of the serve from senior outside hitter Louisa Kishton. The Jays established a 20-14 lead and never looked back after that, taking the set by the score of 25-17.
The second set was one for the ages, featuring a number of lead changes and ties from start to finish. The Eagles jumped out to a substantial 9-4 lead early in the set, taking control off of a number of kills. The resiliency of the Jays shone through, as they scratched and clawed their way back within striking distance, coming within one on three separate occasions. Hopkins finally pulled even at 13-13 after a combined block by senior middle blocker Hannah Korslund and sophomore middle blocker Eleni Panagopoulos.
The Jays went on a mini-run, jumping out to an 18-14 run to create a little separation between them and the Eagles. However almost instantly, the Eagles went on a 4-0 stretch, knotting the set up at 18. Unbothered, Hopkins grabbed a 23-19 lead off of the strength of a pair of kills from Bliss, looking as though they had all but secured the set.
Just when the set seemed over, the Eagles stormed back, sending the game to extra points. The two squads traded kills and serves, until Juniata captured the set on back-to-back points, with the score ending at 35-33.
Anthony gave credence to the team’s ability to comeback and be resilient.
“I think what allowed us to rally back was that we persisted the whole set even though we lost it. We took it all the way to 35 points,” she said. “We knew that we could win and we proved that to ourselves in the first set. I think we carried that same tough mentality and persistence into the 3rd and 4th [set].”
The rest of the match was characterized by Hopkins domination. They jumped out to a commanding 7-1 lead in the third set and never looked back. They capitalized on the Eagles’ errors, hitting .429 with 15 kills to cruise to a 25-14 set win.
The Jays put the fourth set on ice early on. With the set tied at 4-4, Anthony delivered a kill that marked the end of the road for the Eagles. From that point on, the Jays wrapped up the match quite nicely, taking the last set 25-12, featuring three service aces from Panagopoulos and kills from Kishton and Anthony.
The win counted for the Jays’ 12th straight victory to start off the season,
They then swept both Saint Vincent and Rochester in straight sets.
The perfect weekend has the Jays sitting right where they want to be, with perfect chemistry and practice combining for success.
Hopkins will shift their focus onto their Centennial Conference schedule, with a doubleheader against Haverford and Arcadia on Saturday.