The Hopkins women’s volleyball team faced off against the Haverford College Fords and the York College of Pennsylvania Spartans on Oct. 1. The Blue Jays came into the weekend with a 6–6 record, winning five out of six of their previous matches.
The team’s day started at noon against the Fords. In the first set of the game, the Blue Jays came out with an early 7–3 lead. However, the Fords scored five straight off a burst of kills, taking the lead at 8–7. After trading leads back and forth, the Blue Jays ultimately won the set 25–20 with a 10–5 run off of multiple errors from the Fords.
The second set started with both team’s trading points back and forth, eventually tying at 5–5 before the Fords obtained a 7–1 run to lead the set at 12–6. The Blue Jays soon scored two points off of Haverford’s error before the Fords went on a 4–1 run to lead 16–9. Later in the set, the Blue Jays went on an 11–5 run to cut the Fords’ lead down to one point at 24–23. However, off of an error from the Blue Jays, the Fords won the set 25–23.
In the third set, the Blue Jays took an 18–11 lead before an unanswered seven-point run by the Fords tied the set at 18–18. However, the Blue Jays did not falter and won the set 25–19 off of a 7–1 run.
With the Blue Jays only needing one more set to win the match, the lead of the third set switched back and forth before tying at 7–7. However, a burst of energy led the Blue Jays on an 11–1 run, putting the game at 18–8. The deficit proved too deep for the Fords to overcome, as the Blue Jays won the set at 25–15 and the match at 3–1.
Sophomore middle blocker Chidinma Onukwugha was named Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Week after leading the team with a career-high 16 kills and 10 blocks in the game against Haverford.
In an interview with The News-Letter, she commented on her successes.
“My mindset going into the Haverford game was definitely to prioritize playing smart over playing hard. By this, I mean I had to remind myself that I didn't need to hit every ball straight down to score,” she said. “If the set wasn't there or I had been doing the same shot too many times in a row, sometimes a well-placed tip or hit off the high hands was just as effective as a hard swing, which I think is what led to me performing well and helping my team to a successful weekend.”
After a bit of rest, the Blue Jays returned to Goldfarb Gym for a Centennial Conference match against the Spartans. The Blue Jays came out dominant in the first set with an early 10–3 lead. The Spartans attempted a comeback with a three-point run before the Blue Jays answered with their own run of four points. In the end, the Blue Jays put the set away with an 8–3 run.
During the second set, the Spartans and Blue Jays battled back and forth onto a 14–11 Blue Jays lead well into the match. However, the Blue Jays pulled away with an unanswered six-point run before finishing off the set at 25–16.
The third set proved to be a challenge for the Blue Jays, as the Spartans took their first lead of the match at 13–11. The Blue Jays fought back, however, with 11 unanswered points before winning the match at 25–17 and sweeping the Spartans for the day.
Onukwugha spoke on how the team overcame the early season losses.
“Instead of ignoring that they happened, we delved into why they happened — watching film, meeting with coaches about specific things we did wrong, asking teammates what they would do in a particular situation,” she said. “We're a young team, so ‘young’ mistakes are going to happen, which is why it was so beneficial for us to learn from the losses and make changes based on them so that moving forward we minimize any unforced errors and continue on with a strong season.”
With just under half of their regular season left, Onukwugha highlighted the team’s goals of building on their momentum for the remainder of the season.
“We plan on learning from our recent wins — just as we did with our losses earlier in the season — and continuing to instill the little things that work offensively and defensively,” she said. “Being a young team, there's a big emphasis placed on learning, which I think the momentum from these wins will help us do. Ultimately our goal, of course, is to win conference championships and get into the NCAA tournament.”