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February 26, 2024

Women's volleyball dominates an eventful week

By JOSH FELTON | October 9, 2023

wvball

COURTESY OF HOPKINSSPORTS.COM

Women’s volleyball closed out Family Weekend with exciting finishes against Stevenson and Muhlenberg.

The ninth-ranked Hopkins volleyball team took to the road for a Centennial Conference matchup against the Gettysburg College Bullets on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 4. 

The first set saw an early block from junior middle blocker Chidinma Onukwugha and sophomore setter Helena Swaak, sparking a 7-0 run that put the Blue Jays firmly in control. 

They maintained a seven-point lead until another 4-0 run — featuring kills from senior outside blocker Pamela Chiakpo, junior outside hitter Roxy Karrer and sophomore middle blocker Alice Yu — extending Hopkins' lead to 15-4. 

The Blue Jays continued to build on their lead and closed the first set comfortably at 25-11 with a kill by Onukwugha.

In the second set, Hopkins once again took an early lead, going ahead 5-1. However, Gettysburg fought back with a 4-1 run to narrow the score. The Bullets eventually took control with a 7-2 run, leading 17-16. Despite a brief resurgence from Hopkins, Gettysburg secured the second set 25-22.

The third set was closely contested, featuring five lead changes and ten ties. Hopkins initially led 6-3 but fell behind as Gettysburg went up 11-8 with an 8-2 run. The set remained neck-and-neck with ties at 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 before Hopkins managed to pull ahead. The Blue Jays sealed the set 25-23 with a kill from junior outside hitter Simrin Carlsen, taking a 2-1 lead in the match.

Set four continued to see both teams battling back and forth. However, Onukwugha and Carlsen's outstanding play helped Hopkins establish a substantial lead, going up 20-10. Although the Bullets attempted to make a comeback with a couple of 3-0 runs, Hopkins ultimately prevailed. A service error from the Bullets gave Hopkins a 24-17 advantage, and a Carlsen ace closed out the set 25-17. The Blue Jays won the match 3-1.

Carlsen led the way for the Blue Jays, recording 18 kills and extending her streak of double-digit kill matches to 12. Onukwugha, Yu and Karrer also contributed significantly, with all three recording over 10 kills each. 

Karrer not only excelled in kills but also made her presence known with four aces, bringing her career total to 108 and tying her for 18th place among Hopkins' all-time ace leaders. She also achieved a career-high 23 digs. Swaak continued her stellar performance as a setter, amassing 51 assists, marking the third time she has reached at least 50 assists in a match.

On Friday, Hopkins volleyball faced off against Stevenson College and found themselves in a rare fifth set this season. Thanks to an outstanding performance by Carlsen, the Blue Jays secured a 3-2 victory (25-23, 23-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-8) in front of their home fans, extending their winning streak to four games.

The third set was the most one-sided of the night, with Hopkins dominating and winning 25-14. However, Stevenson bounced back in the fourth set, edging out a win of 25-23 to force a fifth and final set.

In the decisive fifth set, Carlsen set a new program record with her 27th kill, setting the tone for Hopkins. They went on to win the set convincingly, 15-8, securing a hard-fought victory.

Carlsen had a remarkable night, breaking a longstanding program record for kills in a five-set match. The previous record of 26 kills had been untouched since 2001. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Hopkins volleyball squad hosted Muhlenberg College and emerged victorious with a clean 3-0 sweep on Family Weekend. Additionally, the Blue Jays took the opportunity to honor their six graduating members after the game.

On her senior day, outside hitter Danielle Norman played a pivotal role for Hopkins by notching an impressive 13 kills while maintaining a remarkable hitting percentage of .565, a career-high in a match where she attempted at least 20 attacks. Other top contributors in Saturday's match were Carlsen with 12 kills, Onukwugha with six and senior opposite Eloise Estrada with five. 

The first set of Saturday's match began with kills from Norman and Carlsen, along with an ace by senior defensive specialist Elizabeth Hsieh, putting Hopkins ahead at 3-0. However, a strong 6-1 run by Muhlenberg reversed the lead. The game remained tied at seven until Hopkins gradually pulled away, reaching a 14-11 advantage. A well-timed 5-1 run extended their lead to seven points, and they clinched the first set 25-16 with additional kills from Chiakpo, Onukwugha and Norman.

In the second set, the Mules once again took an early lead at 6-3, but Hopkins staged a comeback with a 6-1 run, surging ahead at 9-7. The Blue Jays maintained a two-point lead until it was 12-10, at which point they launched a dominating 10-0 run. Although the Mules attempted a comeback, Hopkins' lead was insurmountable, and they secured the second set 25-14, sealed by a kill from Yu.

The final set of the match showcased Hopkins' most complete effort, with the team hitting at an impressive .323 while limiting Muhlenberg to a mere .034 hitting percentage. Importantly, it was the first set where the Blue Jays never trailed, starting with a 7-1 run. Their lead expanded to 19-10, but a late 7-1 run by the visitors narrowed the gap to 20-17. Undeterred, Hopkins closed out both the set and the match with a decisive 5-1 run, culminating in Norman's 13th kill.

Looking ahead, the Blue Jays will continue their Centennial Conference matchups next week when they face Haverford on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m.


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